WSU women’s soccer protected their home field against two regional opponents over the weekend.
The team defeated the Idaho Vandals 5-0 in its first home game of the season Friday afternoon, and then followed with a 1-0 victory over Eastern Washington Sunday.
Scoring was hard to come by in Sunday’s matchup against Eastern, with the lone goal coming in the 19th minute from senior forward Micaela Castain.
The goal came as a result of a corner kick from Castain that struck an Eastern defender and deflected into the net off the near post.
“Give credit to Eastern Washington,” said Head Coach Keidane McAlpine. “They made things difficult for us and made plays that kept the game close.”
A pivotal moment in the match came in the 29th minute, when senior defender Katie Turney cleared a loose ball in front of the net after a scramble by redshirt junior goalkeeper Gurveen Clair, ending Eastern’s scoring threat.
“My keeper was out, so naturally I felt it was a necessity to cover the goal,” said Turney.
In such a close match, the Cougs remained composed throughout the game, especially on the defensive end.
“It gets really hectic when we start doing things out of character, so just doing the simple things helped,” Turney said.
According to Washington State Athletics, the team is 5-0-0 at home in nonconference matchups under McAlpine and have outscored opponents 17-0 in those matches.
In Friday’s matchup, Castain led the Cougs scoring with two goals, to go along with two assists.
“Micaela is a special player, there’s no doubt about it,” said McAlpine. “She puts herself around the goal, finds the ball, and the next thing you know she’s scoring goals.”
The first goal was scored in the 8th minute of play when sophomore midfielder Cara Wegner put WSU up with her first career goal, finishing off a cross from Castain.
The Cougs would later build on their lead, scoring in the 24th minute.
Castain passed the ball to sophomore forward Kourtney Guetlein, who then sent a cross to the far post where junior midfielder Nicole Setterlund struck a shot into the top of the net.
WSU continued to build momentum when Castain scored the teams’ third goal of the day just 72 seconds later. The senior netted the goal 16 yards out off a sequence of passes from freshman forward Kailiana Johnson and redshirt senior midfielder Kayla Johnson.
With halftime approaching, the Cougs were not content going into the break with a 3-0 lead.
In the 41st minute, Setterlund passed to Kailiana Johnson at the top of the box, where she juked one defender before sending home WSU’s fourth goal minutes before the intermission.
The Cougs continued to bring the same aggression after halftime, when Castain headed the ball past the keeper in the 66th minute off assists from junior forward Korynn Blanksma and junior midfielder Mesa Owsley.
It was apparent that WSU was the more aggressive and physical team throughout the game, especially against the Vandals in the shot department 22-3, in addition to earning all seven corner kicks of the match.
The bench came up big by winning many loose ball opportunities as well as moving the ball efficiently, which set up goal scoring chances.
“The bench really helped motivate us,” said Castain. “We try to keep our intensity up for most of the game. We’re not trying to give up weak goals.”
WSU improved their record to 9-1 all-time against the Vandals, the teams’ ninth straight victory against Idaho according to Washington State Athletics.
Freshman forward Kaitlyn Johnson and freshman midfielder Nicolle Marlow made their collegiate debuts, while redshirt freshman goalkeeper Alexis Thode made her debut and notched her first-career save, playing the entire second half.
WSU will travel to Boise, Idaho, Thursday to take on Boise State at 4 p.m.