Category Archives: WSU Soccer

Final Homestand Bodes Well for Future of Cougar Soccer

By Dylan Haugh

The 2016 Washington State Women’s Soccer season came to a close Thursday night in Pullman, a season that’s been marred with seven one goal losses and plenty of shots off the crossbar. The Cougars defeated the Washington Huskies 2-0 on goals from senior Kaitlyn (Kaito) Johnson and stud transfer Alysha Overland. For the 13th straight year, the Cougars remained unbeaten against the Huskies.

Head Coach Todd Shulenburger challenged his team before the game, “The first thing I said in the pregame, you’re down 1-0 tonight, now you got to come back.”

When you look at the season statistics, the Cougs out-shot their opponents 322-214, were +33 in shots on goal, and +25 in corner kicks. Go figure, huh? The Pac-12 has long been dominant in soccer for men and women. It’s a breeding ground for future professional players on both sides. Currently, five Pac-12 teams (USC, Stanford, UCLA, Utah, Cal) sit in the Women’s D1 Top 25, and the Cougs played each of them on the road, losing by one goal each time, with the exception of one match.

“Every one of those games, we were in on the road. Last minute goal here, last-minute goal there. I still think we are a better soccer team now as far as playing soccer, and you can ask the coaches in the conference,” Shulenburger said.

The Cougars are knocking on the doorstep nationally and will head into the 2017 season as a sneaky, under the radar team. For the Cougs to take that next step, this returning group must produce results on the road (0-6-1 in 2016). Two trips to California against four nationally ranked powerhouses will have its benefits come next season when the Cougars face tough road contests.

Freshman sensation Morgan Weaver ran circles around opposing teams this season, leading the team with eight goals. Against the Huskies, Weaver finally checked into the assist column, splitting a double-team inside the box and setting up Johnson for a one-touch strike to the back of the net. Johnson spoke with a smile when asked about Weaver’s dish.

“It was awesome, I have always been on the assisting end of her goals, mostly this year, so it was awesome. She’s going to grow into a really great player here.”

Weaver goes about her business quietly. On the field, she’s a silent assassin looking for the back of the net, making constant runs and winning 50/50 balls. Weaver finished the year 4th in the Pac-12 in shots, and 5th in goals. When asked if anybody can keep up with her, her sweet innocence showed.

Do you feel like anyone can keep up with you speed wise? “Yeah!” You do? “Yeahhh.” Anyone on the Huskies? “I don’t know.” You look faster than everyone out there… Chuckles. “I don’t like saying stuff like this.”

Overland will look to build off an incredible season up top. The JC transfer continued to perform, gaining more playing time throughout the year. Overland’s shot on goal percentage was 50% this season as she converted 6/12 opportunities. More importantly, Overland’s goals were clutch, with four of them being game-winning goals. Shulenburger praised his diamond in the rough.

“The kid never played club soccer, she came from a junior college. She had big goals this year. UCLA, Santa Clara, UW, I mean the list goes on,”

With core players like Weaver (Fr),  Kelsey Crenshaw (Jr), Overland (So), Grace Hancock (So), Maegan O’Neill (So), Ella Dederick (So), Sofia Anker-Kofoed (Jr), and Maddy Haro (So) returning, the Cougs look to build off a solid final three-game stretch.

The performance from this younger Cougar nucleus in 2016 will surely give Shulenburger and the rest of the Cougar staff confidence in getting the program on track for a tourney run. There’s nothing sweeter than ending the season with a win over the Huskies.

Behind the Scenes of a WSU Game Day

By Taegan Whiteley

Today I will take you, the readers, behind the scenes of the Washington State women’s soccer team and show what really goes on behind the scenes and what it truly takes to put on a game day event. To really appreciate and recognize the management skills that go on to make a home game happen, I had to immerse myself in their positions.

Thursday, October 27, the woman’s soccer team was set to kick off at 7p.m. against Oregon State. I arrived at the Lower Soccer Field at 5 p.m. and by the time I got there, I was extremely thankful that I brought a rain coat because the rain did not let up. I was met at the field by Andrew, who is a student at WSU and earning credits for his internship where he learns and partakes in game day management festivities. One of Andrew’s main jobs is sideline management – he makes sure that the coaches don’t slit each other’s throats and also that they do not step on the field. In any sport, we have seen coaches step out of line because games can be especially frustrating when it’s not going their way. So, Andrew makes sure that everything on the sidelines is going smoothly.

Doing sideline control is just one extremely small aspect that goes into game day management. Each week before a home game, the head of each department comes together and discusses important information such as official needs, promotions and what they specifically need to make their game day go smoothly. Just like teams at WSU, the heads of each department work as a team to collectively make sure that everything goes according to plan. However, sometimes that’s not always the case. A lot of problems can arise, especially when there are multiple sports playing in one weekend; miscommunication can be their biggest issue. But there are issues that can happen that aren’t as controllable as others. The very first time WSU hosted a NCAA tournament, mother nature decided to dump 4-5 inches of snow and kickoff was set at 11 a.m.. They had approximately two hours to clear the entire field, but luckily they had the support from other departments and made sure the field was ready to go by kickoff.

Next, I had the opportunity to talk to Jen Hanson, who has been the director of marketing and promotions for WSU athletics for the past six years. Most of her work is done during the summer, so by the time fall rolls around, she has a set plan for the upcoming season’s marketing and promotions plan. This soccer season was especially exciting because Hanson changed her marketing and promotions plan in order to attract more fans to games. Previously, they would have huge promotion giveaways, but more often than not, fans would pick up their free giveaway and leave. Hanson noticed this and decided to make a change. She and her promotions team decided to give the voucher system a try, and at halftime fans could then receive their giveaway. Since doing this, fan attendance has been the highest it has ever been.

I caught up with Bill Stevens, who is the athletic director of media communications who oversees all media and communication of football, tennis and soccer. Since this past week WSU played at home, Stevens started calling T.V. crews and broadcast networks on Monday. When broadcasters can’t physically be in Pullman, it is Stevens’ job to go over game notes and break each and every previous game played down. He catches broadcasters up to speed so that they can still talk with authority to a national audience. Stevens also runs the soccer website, and tries to get out as much information as he can to the media as well as pitches story ideas. When pitching story ideas, it is his main goal to tell the players’ stories and make it so that they aren’t just seen as soccer players but as student-athletes with hopes and dreams outside of athletics. Stevens is the go-to guy if you want to coordinate interviews with coaches and players since players are on such a strict schedule they don’t want to disrupt any free time that they are given. Stevens said that the benefit of his job is that “they pay me to watch sports every day and I would honestly take that any day.”

This was definitely eye-opening for me. Yes, this is only part of what really goes on to put on a game day event but I hope it gives you an insight to the crazy world of sports and sports management. The WSU game day management team works as a team to put on event that we as fans love going to, and without their hard work and dedication, game days wouldn’t be a thing that at WSU we celebrate