Going into Saturday night, women’s soccer (4-6-2, 0-3-0 WCC) was seeking its first win against Portland (7-3-3, 1-1 WCC) in team history and its first WCC win of the season.
Despite an outstanding effort, the Zags will have to wait longer after a last-minute penalty kick from Portland handed the Bulldogs a heartbreaking 2-1 loss at Luger Field.
The Zags put the pressure on the Pilots throughout the game, leading them in corner kicks 9-2, but Allis Wetherington’s goal in the 90th minute proved to be the difference for Portland.
“You can’t question their effort,” head coach Amy Edwards said. “I’m very proud of their effort and I thought they deserved it; I’m just disappointed they didn’t find themselves on the right side of it.”
Portland took an early lead in the first half as Kaycie Young scored off a deflection in the 10th minute, but it didn't take long for Gonzaga to respond. In the 21st minute, Callie Best controlled the ball and sent a beautiful shot to the back right corner of the net off the assist from Karley Baggerly. The goal seized the momentum from Portland and quieted the large crowd.
The second half increased in physicality and intensity as rain started to fall over Luger Field. Fouls picked up as Portland went on the attack. Goalkeeper Sarah Swanson made two nice saves in the 77th and 79th minute — the first off a free kick and the latter stopped a potential breakaway goal.
For every advance the Pilots made late in the game, the Zags seemed to have an answer as they responded with close shots on goal minutes after each Pilots’ charge.
The Bulldogs’ late push began with Hope Tsuneyoshi’s header in the 80th minute, stopped by a kick save from Portland goalie Hanna De Haan. GU continued going after a second goal when Taylor Kernion fired a shot that went off the top post before being cleared in the 84th minute.
“I thought we were extremely dangerous in the second half,” Edwards said. “We are very unfortunate to not get that second goal.”
The hard-fought match came to an end when a collision in the 89th minute awarded Portland a penalty kick. Wetherington delivered, sending a shot to the left corner of the net just seconds before the end of the game.
Despite the last-minute goal, Edwards praised her team’s resilience and remains proud of the way the Zags fought Saturday night.
“I felt we played some of our best soccer today,” Edwards said. “I think we just have to keep building on the confidence we developed in the final third today.”