WSU soccer upsets No. 1 seeded Virginia to advance to NCAA third round

WSU soccer upsets No. 1 seeded Virginia to advance to NCAA third round
WSU Athletics

In a game that will go down in Washington State soccer history the Cougars (14-6-1) upset the No. 1 seeded Virginia Cavaliers (17-2-3), 3-2, to advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

For the Cougs, the win marked the biggest upset in program history considering the stage and the team as the Cavaliers entered the game ranked No. 3 in the country having lost just once in 21 games prior to Friday night in Charlottesville.

Despite the stacked odds and the monumental task in front of them, the Cougs took it to the home Cavaliers from the start, using their speed and athleticism to get behind the vaunted Virginia defense. The first break through came in just the 13′ as the winning duo from round one hooked up once again to get WSU on the board.

After setting up the goal against Memphis it was Averie Collins who put the Cougs in front early as she played her way to the end line before banging a shot off a Cavalier defender on an impossible angle to put WSU up 1-0.

Collins made her run to the line after being set up by Makamae Gomera-Stevens as the junior notched another postseason point for her resume. The constant press by the Cougs did, however, leave them susceptible to a quick transition on the other end as the Cavs equalized six minutes later when Diana Ordonez pounced on a rebound after Ella Dederick made a diving save on an initial attempt by Meghan McCool. Undeterred, the Cougs continued to force the Cavaliers to bend to their pressure, this time making use of their third corner of the opening half.

After just missing on a perfect service from Brianna Alger minutes earlier, WSU would not make the same mistake twice as Elyse Bennett redirected another bender from Alger back into the middle of the box to Morgan Weaver who volleyed it home.

With a lead in hand, the Cougs knew they were in for a fight in the second half as the top-ranked Cavaliers came out firing to open the new period putting WSU on its heels. The pressure would prove too much to hold off as UVA equalized for a second time just seven minutes into the final 45 when McCool slotted one just past the outstretched arms of Dederick.

Back to square one, the Cougs redoubled their efforts, sticking to the plan that got them the lead in the first half. A back-and-forth battle ensued for the next half an hour with both teams testing each others backlines and keepers with both Michaela Moran in goal for the Cavaliers and Dederick proving to be up to the task.

As the defense held tight the offense pushed forward in waves probing for the potential game-winner. That pressure would finally pay off in the 82′ when Weaver cut her way into the 18 and fired a shot at Moran. The Cavaliers keeper could not corral the shot allowing MacKenzie Frimpong-Ellertson to battle for the rebound, eventually knocking the loose ball past Moran and into the back of the net. The stunned Cavaliers would have no answer this time as the Cougs put the game to rest over the final eight minutes of action, dancing their way into the sweet 16 for the second time in program history.

Fact of the Match
The Cougs advanced to the Round of 16 for just the second time in program history, matching their run from 2017.