Gonzaga women’s soccer decided yet another game in the closing seconds Thursday against Colorado State, primarily thanks Lauren Elwer’s heroics.
In their first home game of the season and their first ever matchup with CSU (2-1-0), the Bulldogs put on a show. This is the fourth game in a row (including an exhibition) that has gone down to the wire for the Zags (2-1-0), and the second time in a row that they have come away with a win.
In the 89th minute of a 1-1 tied game, Elwer dribbled downfield and floated a cross into the Rams’ box. The cross was deflected off a Ram defender and snuck into the goal to seal the game with only six seconds left.
For much of the match, it looked like the Zags weren’t going to need a last-gasp effort. The offense had a dominant first half, taking a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute when Elwer booted in a rebound off Erin Healy’s shot. They continued to maintain offensive pressure for the majority of the first 45.
But the Rams weren’t done yet. CSU came alive in the second half, evening up the possession battle and starting to get their first real offensive looks of the game.
The raucous home crowd went silent as the Rams’ Gracie Armstrong tied the game at 1-1 in the 82nd minute off a cross from Ally Murphy-Pauletto.
Suddenly, it looked like the Zags might have to play overtime. With only a few minutes left, they’d have to make something happen fast if they wanted to escape 90 minutes with a win.
“It definitely kicked in [after Armstrong’s goal] that we needed to step it up a notch,” said Elwer. “We were getting pretty relaxed.”
The next few minutes were a back-and-forth affair, with both teams getting decent looks on both sides of the field. It wasn’t until Elwer’s goal in the 89ththat the Zags were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
“It shows a lot about our character to win a game in the last six seconds,” said junior defender Jordan Thompson, one of the team’s captains. “It shows that our team fights to the end and that we’re going to find a way to win no matter what.”
The Zags’ strikers went to work in this match, getting 16 shots to the Rams’ 10 with 11 of them on goal. Healy placed 4 out of her game-high 5 shots on goal.
Despite the Zags’ newfound offensive prowess, head coach Chris Watkins saw room for improvement in transition.
“The transition defense was a little poor,” he said. “We made too many mistakes and gave them too many chances.”
Elwer simply didn’t want to have to play another 30 minutes.
“I definitely was dead. I knew everyone was dead, and I didn’t want it to go to overtime,” she said.
Gonzaga plays next at home against Montana Sunday at 1 p.m.