Gonzaga vs. Washington State

Samantha Heilman (18) battles with a Washington State player during Gonzaga's 1-0 loss on Thursday night at Luger Field.

Gonzaga lost a closely contested game 1-0 against in-state rival Washington State University Thursday night at Luger Field. The game, which was taken into overtime, kept the crowd packed with both Bulldog and Cougar fans in nervous excitement for over 90 minutes of action.

The Zags were coming off three straight wins going into Thursday night’s matchup, giving them a 3-1 record before playing WSU. The Cougars entered Lugar Field with a clean 3-0 record on the year and ranked No. 17 in the country.

WSU also entered the matchup with the No. 1 offense in the country, averaging 5.33 goals per game and an average goal differential of 4.33 goals per game.

“We had a pretty deep game plan today,” said GU head coach Chris Watkins. “We took an extra three or four seconds for every throw in and five seconds for every goal kick, just to give ourselves time to breathe and to make [WSU] have to look at a scoreboard that was tied, which for a team that is used to being up by four goals in a game, can create a little bit of stress.”

The Bulldogs also had to prepare for Cougar forward Morgan Weaver, a 2018 First Team Pac,-12 player, who had three goals on the year. Watkins said the game plan with her was for the GU defense to keep her on the outside and force her to take shots from there, which worked to a tee as Weaver put up seven shots, but none were on target.

The Bulldogs never wavered, despite WSU’s strong attack. The Cougars took 10 shots in the first half, but only three of them were on target and defended by redshirt junior goalkeeper Isabel Jones. Meanwhile, the Zags took two shots, both of which were on goal.

 

The second half is where things picked up for both teams.

Weaver had a shot in the 61st minute that barely scooted left of the goal. Soon after, Cougars defender Aaqila McLyn shot a rocket that flew over the top bar. 

Jones pulled out the two best saves of the game in the 66th minute and the 74th minute, saving two nearly identical shots in the bottom left corner that she laid out entirely for to keep the game scoreless. 

“Coach always tells me that when the ball is served and is dropped. that we get set," Jones said. "On both of those, I was able to do that and I’m just happy it went my way. Our defense really did amazing the entire game so all the credit goes to them.”

Jones made a season-high seven saves in the game.

The last 10 minutes of regular time is when the Bulldogs attempted to take control of the match.

A foul by a WSU defender just outside the box in the 80th minute led to a shot attempt for senior forward Madeline Gotta. Her solid strike missed right of the top corner. 

Not even a minute later, one of the Zags' leading scorers, freshman Erin Healy, narrowly missed a chance on goal.

After keeping the ball on the Cougars' side of the field for a majority of the last 10 minutes, the clock was winding down as the Zags made one push for a last-second goal.

A good cross from senior forward Sophia Viviano was snagged by WSU’s goalkeeper just before GU forward India Jencks was able to boot it in. So, the two teams headed into overtime, where the game ends upon the first score.

WSU started with the ball from midfield, made an push toward the goal and Cougar midfielder Averie Collins scored from just outside the box. The goal gave WSU a 1-0 win.

 

“We played a great game all the way around, and then a girl gets the shot of a lifetime before you can do anything about it,” Watkins said. “But let me tell you, I’m more proud of the way these girls on my team played today than I was after any of our past three wins.”

Although the Cougars stormed the field after a hard-fought win, the Bulldogs found out what they’re made of.

 

“We’re viewed as the underdog and I like that mentality," Jones said. "We’re good and we can improve every single game, which we have already done so far this year. I’m excited.”

Asher Ali is a staff writer.

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