Oct. 14, 2001
By Jason Hickman
The toughest, grittiest athlete at Washington State University isn't a middle linebacker or a defensive lineman from the football team. It's not even the catcher on the baseball team. It's a soccer player.
Cougar goalkeeper Lindsey Jorgensen symbolizes toughness. The 2000 season provided one challenge after another for the North Bend, Wash., native, and she performed brilliantly, boasting a career-best 0.91 goals against average and maintaining a near-perfect grade point average in the classroom.
The first test for Jorgensen came nine games into the season, in the middle of what would eventually be a 4-2 victory for WSU over Montana. The 5-11 senior stalked to the top of the box to make a play on a ball, and...
Jorgensen can't tell the rest of the story, because she doesn't remember. She still tries to fill in the blanks.
"It was a one-on-one and I came out and the girl hit me in the head and I just instantaneously blacked out. I couldn't move. I remember laying there and trying to get up but nothing worked and that was scary," Jorgensen said. "I came back and I felt fine, but during the course of the game I kind of forgot what I was doing. I had to keep reminding myself what I was doing. I looked up at the scoreboard and saw we were ahead 4-2 and I thought we were tied 2-2."
Jorgensen missed games against UNLV and California recovering from a concussion, but according to the Cougar stopper, it was a blessing in disguise.
"They wouldn't even let me work out and that was hard because it was our last non-conference game and our Pac-10 opener that I missed," she said. "It was hard to sit, but I think it was a good experience because it showed me how much I appreciate playing."
At least it showed her how much she thought she enjoyed playing. First, Jorgensen's physical toughness was tested, next it would be her mental toughness.
November 8, 2000 was supposed to be the biggest day of Jorgensen and her Cougar teammates' soccer careers. Instead they woke up to a nightmare. Washington State qualified for the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in the program's 13-year history. Montana, who the Cougars smoked 4-2 earlier in the season, was selected as their first round opponent. The excitement was severely dulled the morning of the match.
"Waking up in the morning and seeing five inches of snow, it was like, 'Okay, are we still playing?' That was brutal. The whole thing was pretty weird," Jorgensen said. "It was not a game. Whoever had the luck of the draw was going to win and it was tough to lose that way."
Washington State did lose an ugly, 1-0 decision to the Grizzlies, but that only strengthened Jorgensen's resolve to get back to the postseason.
"We have a senior class that is hunting because this is it for them," head coach Dan Tobias said. "This is their last opportunity to play college soccer. They got a taste of the NCAA Tournament last year and they want more."
"Getting that far, I think we set our expectations higher this year. We expect to get that far, but in order to that we have to perform. We have to work for that on a daily basis," Jorgensen said.
The Cougar 'keeper also works on the other half of being a student-athlete on a daily basis. Jorgensen is a two-time academic All-American and carried a 4.00 through her first two years at WSU majoring in mathematics. She would like to become a math teacher at the middle or high school level after she graduates next spring.
Jorgensen had to do a little more math than she would have liked on the opening weekend of the 2001 season. She gave up four goals in two games against St. Mary's and UNLV, both losses. The 1998 Mount Si High School graduate is confident the Cougars will get back to winning., however.
"I think we played better than we started out last year, which is a good sign. We just had a couple of mental breakdowns and just didn't play the full 90 minutes," Jorgensen said.
Playing the full 90 minutes is something Jorgensen is used to. She is already Washington State's all-time leader in minutes with 5,272 and nearly a full season left to play. Jorgensen is basically the Cal Ripken, Jr. of Cougar soccer. That's toughness.