Zags shutout Bakersfield to notch first win of the season

Gonzaga freshman forward Giana Riley put the Zags ahead 1-0 after scoring her first collegiate goal in the 20th minute. 

On Thursday evening, the Gonzaga Bulldogs women’s soccer team (1-1-2) defeated the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners (1-3) with a score of 3-0, earning their first regular season victory.

The first five minutes of the game was a hard-fought battle for both teams as they constantly were batting on the midfield. During that period, Zags' senior goalkeeper Lysa Bosselmann had an impressive save at the two-minute mark.

The Zags were still struggling to score as they only had one shot attempt in the first 15 minutes of the game as the Roadrunners were running a 4-3-3 formation and stacking their goalkeeper’s box on defense.

Another aspect of the game plan for the Roadrunners was their speed as Bakersfield was matching the Zags with their quickness and hustle. They would constantly outrun the Zags on offense and defense while also blocking the passing seams.

But the Bulldogs were able to get on the board as freshman forward Giana Riley scored her first goal of the season and her collegiate career thanks to an assist from junior forward Maddie Kemp. Kemp would make a cross skip pass to Riley for a header as she scored over two Roadrunner defenders.

“[Kemp] is one of our best passers…. she's really smart," said GU Women's Soccer Head Coach Chris Watkins. “She’s really composed around the goal, so she can create things that others just can’t. She's calm and makes good decisions on goals.”

The rest of the period was fairly quiet as both teams combined for nine shots, none of which found the back of the net.

The score at the half was still 1-0 favoring the Zags.

GU wouldn’t take long to add to the score after halftime. In the 52-minute mark, Kemp would score a header thanks to assist from sophomore midfielder Willow Collins. That goal would be Kemp’s first goal of the season and Willow’s first assist of the season.

The rest of the second period GU would dominate the ball and would rest most of their starters. The Zags would score again — this time on a penalty kick by senior midfielder Sophia Braun, which gave the Zags a lead of 3-0.

“I think the first 45 minutes were a little slow”, Riley said. “There was a lot of defensive pressure. But after halftime, we picked it up… The energy was higher. And we tried to execute the things that we talked about before the game, and we're able to do that and get the win.”

Overall, the Zags did a better job at taking high quality than the last game against Oregon and the game also showcased a couple of freshmen, including Riley, who looks to be a big part of the future for the Zags’ offense.

The Zags finished the game with 16 shots, one save and six corner kicks. GU would also win possession battle though just by a small margin as they held the ball for 52% of the game compared to Bakersfield's 48%. 

GU will have a short break as they will face the University of Texas Longhorns on Sunday, Sep. 4 at Luger Field.

Daniel Fortin is a copy editor. Follow him on Twitter: @Daniel_Fortin_.