For the second consecutive season, Washington State soccer star Morgan Weaver is turning it on at the right time.
Weaver scored six goals in a pair of wins last week, including a record-trying four in a win Sunday against Colorado — WSU’s first win versus the Buffaloes since 2015.
But what fans didn’t see, is the behind the scenes leading up to Weaver’s big showing. The senior forward had four goals on the season before the explosion — an uncharacteristically slow start for a player now one shy of 40 career goals.
“Nobody’s harder on herself than her and nobody saw the couple weeks of her feeling down and the pressure she felt for her team,” WSU coach Todd Shulenberger said after the Colorado game. “To see the emotion and joy come out tonight again is a good thing.”
Weaver and the No. 24 Cougs (12-5-1, 5-4-1 Pac-12) wrap up the regular season with their biggest game yet in an Apple Cup showdown against Washington (10-6-2, 6-4-0) at 7 p.m. today in Seattle.
It’s a game Weaver will try to replicate her showing from last year: A hat trick in WSU’s 3-1 win against the Huskies at Lower Soccer Field.
That game remains Weaver’s favorite moment of her career.
“We’re a strong team and I think we’re ready for it,” said Weaver, who hails from University Place. “I’m excited to go back to Seattle. A bunch of family (is from) over there, so hopefully they’ll make it to the game.”
No matter which way you shape it, Weaver has a knack for late-season heroics. Her three goals against the Huskies in 2018 make it a combined seven on back-to-back senior days.
Her final goal against Washington last year remains one of the biggest of her career: it’s been viewed more than 20,000 times on social media.
First, Weaver shot upfield, just beating a Husky midfielder to the ball on a clear by WSU. From there, it was all speed up the middle. With the rest of the players left in the dust, Weaver juked the goalkeeper and fired in her third goal from close range.
In her career, Weaver’s 39 goals are one shy of second place in the school’s record book.
On the season, Weaver has 11 goals — two fewer than the 13 she tallied as a junior.
Weaver said she has a dream of going pro after her college career concludes. After all, she’s been donning soccer cleats since she was 4 years old, and she’s not ready to hang them up yet.
But before then, WSU has unfinished business. The Cougs are likely a shoe-in for their 10th NCAA tournament berth since 2008.
WSU’s deepest run came in 2017, when they made it to the third round before falling to No. 16 Florida in double overtime.
Shulenberger called Weaver one of the most coachable and likeable players he’s been around. She’s a player others rally around, and would rather give credit to her teammates than talk about herself.
“She’s a very likeable young lady both from the coaching staff and the players,” Shulenberger said. “She’s a leader. She’s having fun with what she’s doing.”
Said Weaver, “I couldn’t be more thankful for the players that I’ve played with from the past to today.
“I’ve just loved every second of it.”
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @StephanSports.