Cougs fall behind early, can’t catch up

Tennessee’s Taylor Huff (13) dribbles past Washington State defenders Alyssa Gray (16) and Grayson Lynch, far right, during Friday’s NCAA quarterfinal game in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Volunteers won 2-0, ending the Cougars’ hopes of returning to the title game.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Tennesee Volunteers scored a pair of goals just 10 minutes apart in the first half, and their defense made it stand up in taking a 2-0 victory against Washington State NCAA tournament second-round match Friday at the University of Michigan’s Soccer Stadium.

“The first half we weren’t ourselves,” Cougars coach Todd Shulenberger said. “Tennessee was good in the first half. We missed a breakaway, we missed another shot there early. We weren’t in the game a lot in the first half, I’d say, but we still had a chance to take the lead. Then we go down two and change the (formation) in the second half and quite honestly, they couldn’t get out. The ball just didn’t go in.”

Jordan Fusco finished off a Mackenzie George pass in the 24th minute to give Tennessee (20-2) a 1-0 lead. Then seizing on the momentum, the Volunteers got an insurance goal from Taylor Huff, her 10th of the season, at the 32:33 mark of the first half when the Cougars couldn’t clear a ball out of their third.

But Washington State (14-3-4) had its chances. Senior forward Elyse Bennett was denied a golden opportunity when her shot was blocked on a nice kick save by Tennessee goalie Lindsey Romig. Another Cougars shot went over the crossbar a few minutes later, then Fusco converted.

At the half, Washington State changed up its offensive formation to a 3-4-3 look and pressed more. Junior midfielder Grayson Lynch fired a shot that just glanced off the far post. Then the task got more difficult when senior midfielder Sydney Studer was sent off in the 64th minute after being issued a second yellow card. A header from Bennett off a corner kick hit off the crossbar, and thus went the Cougs’ chances of advancing.

Washington State held a slight 17-16 edge in shots, but Tennessee had a 9-6 edge on target. The Volunteers had 9-4 advantage on corners.

Romig finished with six saves and freshman goalie Nadia Cooper finished with seven stops for the Cougars.

“I’m proud of this group,” Shulenberger said. “Really good team, we had some really good wins, we just lost to a really good team.”

WSU 0 0—0

Tennessee 2 0—2

Tennessee — Jordan Fusco (Mackenzie George), 24th.

Tennessee — Taylor Huff (Hannah Zaluski), 33rd.

Shots — Washington State 17, Tennesee 16. Saves — Washington State: Nadia Cooper 7. Tennesee: Lindsey Romig 6.

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