Gonzaga women’s soccer kicked off West Coast Conference pay Saturday against the University of San Diego with a 6-0 win at Luger Field.
The first half was when the Zags took their initial lead. Senior forward Samantha Heilman scored the first goal of the game in the 21st minute. But this wasn’t enough for the Zags.
“During halftime, we talked like one goal was not enough to win a game,” Heilman said. “This team was well capable of coming back. So for us to really finish off like it was important for us, we took it to heart.”
After halftime, things heated up, and the Zags continued to score. Right off the bat, Heilman scored her second goal of the game with a header assisted by redshirt senior midfielder India Jencks.
Within five minutes, senior Maddy Gotta shot from the top of the box and scored, assisted by junior defender Jordan Thompson. This gave GU a 3-0 lead.
Senior forward Sophia Viviano followed soon after with an unassisted strike, and the three goals were scored over the span of less than 10 minutes.
Heilman came through with a hat trick, scoring three of the game's six goals . There hasn’t been a recorded hat trick for GU since 2003.
“Honestly, celebrating with my teammates [was the best part]. The bench was insanely fun,” Heilman said. “Everyone’s screaming, there's different people scoring. A freshman scored the last goal of the game.”
Freshman midfielder Darcy Woodward scored the first goal of her career, assisted by freshman forward Erin Healy. Woodward's goal pushed the Zags' lead to 6-0.
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Isabel Jones had three saves and the Zags had a 23-8 shot advantage for the whole game.
“We’re excited. Everyone’s happy," Heilman said. "Everyone's ready to roll into the next one though. We're definitely not over yet.
“We have a goal to make it to the [NCAA] Tournament. So, basically, we want to win 14 games total. We have a goal to win a good amount of the next games to make the tournament.”
Head coach Chris Watkins said both the offense and defense performed well.
“It was really nice to watch the girls attack so well. Thirteen days we were off and so you worry about a little rust," he said. "I think we actually showed some rust in the first 15-20 minutes."
Watkins said that USD is a good team and that it’s a good matchup for GU.
“We match up well with them," he said. "So we're able to kind of get around the corners quite often against them."
With Gotta and Heilman scoring four of the six goals, there was a strong senior presence on the field. Watkins said he's proud of the Bulldog seniors.
“Our seniors really want to do this and things that haven't been done here at Gonzaga and really, they already have,” Watkins said. “But we want to see how much we can do and hopefully winning some conference games will get us there.”
Going into the WCC conference season, Watkins said he is encouraged and optimistic but knows the journey ahead won't be easy.
“Well, we're relatively healthy. And for the most part, we're able to score goals," he said. "So there's a lot of pieces that are exciting. But it's a long ways to go and we have really great teams in our conference, so we won't get too excited."
The Zags travel to Portland to face the University of Portland at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.