CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Todd Shulenberger’s “little ol’ team from Pullman” upended another powerhouse Sunday, skunking West Virginia 3-0 to advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA women’s soccer tournament for the first time in Washington State history.
“Our foot was on the gas pedal all weekend; we came here to win,” Shulenberger said. “Two great opponents ... but we’re a good team too.”
Star forward Morgan Weaver netted two goals, Makamae Gomera-Stevens got the ball rolling with the first of the match and keeper Ella Dederick tallied five saves.
The Cougars (15-6-1), who have their most wins in program history, will face No. 5 South Carolina on Friday at Stone Stadium in Columbia, S.C. Their win Sunday came just two days after WSU’s biggest-ever victory, a 3-2 defeat of top-seeded Virginia.
Gomera-Stevens forced the Mountaineers’ stalwart backline into a miscue in the 14th minute, taking control of a loose ball — meant as a pass to WVU’s goalie — and firing a rocket from just inside the box. It was Gomera-Stevens’ second score of the postseason.
WSU’s defense held firm against a constant WVU attack, with Dederick furnishing a handful of rally-stoppers over the next 40 minutes.
“After we scored our first goal, we just knew we had to lock down,” Dederick said. “I love being under pressure. We all thrive.”
Nineteen minutes into the second half, WSU’s defense countered a Mountaineers’ attack and Kelis Barton blasted an assist across the field to a streaking senior Weaver, who pushed past her defender and sent a one-on-one shot into the low corner for a 2-0 lead.
“Big players step up in big moments,” Shulenberger said. “She’s proved it again — she’s one of the best forwards in the country. Let’s call it spade to spade.”
It was the 13th goal of the year for Weaver, a second-team All-Pac-12 forward who’s scored multiple goals in nine career games.
She logged her 14th only seven minutes later, after Katie Jones slipped and played the ball back to Weaver, who scored again in the low post.
“I was just trying to get Katie a goal, and she slipped on the grass a little and played it right back to me,” Weaver said. “It was like, why not just hit it?
“Speechless. I don’t even know how to explain it right now.”
The Cougars outshot WVU on-goal 10-5, and torched All-American WVU keeper Rylee Foster, who had seven saves.
“We’re a different style, we’re a unique style, we’re a fun style,” Shulenberger said. “This is what we put this team together for — a run like this.”
West Virginia 0 0—0
Washington State 1 2—3
WSU — Makamae Gomera-Stevens, 15th.
WSU — Morgan Weaver (Kelis Barton), 64th.
WSU — Weaver (Katie Jones), 71st.
Shots — WSU 14, WVU 11
Saves — WSU: Ella Dederick 5; WVU: Rylee Foster 7