After a 2-0 victory against Cal last week, a lot of attention surrounds the Cougars in the national polls this week as they host two home matches against the universities of Utah and Colorado.
WSU holds an 8-4-1 record for the season and is ranked No. 39 in the current NCAA RPI while waiting to receive votes from the Soccer Times and NSCAA polls. They are the first team Soccer Times will be voting on and are one point shy of the top 25.
The Cougars possess a deep roster of talent and are currently ranked fourth in the Pacific Region by the NSCAA. In the Pac-12, junior Brandi Vega is tied for second with five assists and tied for eighth with 11 points.
Redshirt freshman Gurveen Clair is also one to keep an eye on, being tied for third with 54 saves and holding an impressive .857 save percentage. The list continues with sophomore Eileen Maes, tied for eighth with four goals and freshman Jocelyn Jeffers tied for ninth with three assists.
Last week, the Cougars dropped their first conference match against No. 1 Stanford but managed to bounce back against No. 21 Cal with a large contribution from bench players, creating some momentum going into the weekend.
“I was really pleased with the number of minutes we got with our players coming off the bench,” Head Coach Matt Potter said. “The fact that players can come off the bench and play great minutes for us speaks to that ability to adapt.”
Starting at 3 p.m. on Friday, the Cougars will host Utah. The Utes are on a five-game winning streak and one of three teams in the Pac-12 that remain 3-0 in conference matches. They lead the all-time series with WSU 4-2-1 but have not recorded a victory against the Cougars since 2006.
“Utah is playing as well as anybody right now,” Potter said. “To be 3-0 in the Pac-12 is a great position to be in, so I’m sure their full of confidence. We’re going to have to be at our best this weekend.”
This season, Utah is tied for sixth in the NSCAA Pacific Region rankings and holds an explosive offense with starting forward Erin Dalley who leads or ties for a top spot in the conference in seven stat categories.
“In terms of rankings, that’s just an opinion,” Potter said. “Our opinion when we play somebody at home is we can take on and perform against anybody and try to get a positive result out of the day.”
Following Friday’s match against Utah, the Colorado Buffalos come to Pullman for Sunday’s match at noon in their second all-time meeting with the Cougars. Colorado is 3-6-2 and is still looking for its first conference wins after picking up a tie and a loss to Arizona and ASU last week. Colorado leads the series with the Cougars 1-0 after a 2-1 OT win last season.
“We continue to grow as a team and continue to build in our performance and that’s very encouraging,” Potter said. “Obviously, we’re going to have play well because Utah is playing very well, as is Colorado. Their record doesn’t speak to the talent of the team.”