Oct. 25, 2000
The Cougar soccer team (10-6-0 overall, 2-4-0 in the Pac-10) has played five ranked opponents in their last six games, all Pacific-10 conference teams. Although WSU is only 1-4 in those games, the Cougs have taken two ranked teams to overtime and have not lost to a ranked Pac-10 opponent by more than one point.
The Cougars, who received votes in the national poll two weeks ago after sweeping the Arizona schools, recently played four of the top 20 schools in the nation. They just missed a 2-1 loss to No. 6 California, a 1-0 game to No. 7 UCLA, a 2-1 overtime loss to No. 18 USC and a 1-0 overtime loss to No. 19 Stanford.
"I think it really just comes down us learning how to close out these games against top 10 opponents," head coach Dan Tobias said in a press conference Tuesday. "I really felt like we were unlucky, particularly on Sunday, not to win that game. My heart goes out to the players because I feel like we left everything on the field. The players understand that the margin for error is tiny in the conference and you can't have any lapses, particularly in the defensive third."
The Cougars are ranked ninth in the west for the second week in a row and will take on Oregon and Oregon State this weekend on the road.
"We've earned some regional respect and the fact that our conference is recognized as the top conference in the country definitely doesn't hurt," Tobias said. "We have three opportunities, two on the road this week to demonstrate that we're a tournament caliber team."
Leading the Cougars efforts is senior Deka DeWitt (Auburn, Wash.), who is one goal short of tying her season high set in 1998 of 12. Her 92 shots this season are the third best in school history, and 10 shots off of tying the record. Her 274 career shots on goal are five off of Kim Lynass' record set in 1993. The Cougars 18.6 shots a game are second in the league.
Not only are the Cougars taking a lot of shots, but they are also dishing out record-breaking assists. DeWitt and junior Beth Childs (Snoqualmie, Wash.) are tied for the record in career assists with 15 each. Liz Duncan (Richland, Wash.) is leading the team in assists this season, with seven which ties for second all-time with Childs and is only one off of DeWitt's record set last season.
With four players going down in last weekend's games, the Cougars will be short two this weekend. Defender Erin Cook (Portland, Ore.) will be out for the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and the Cougars third leading scorer Natalie Kehl (Spokane, Wash.) broke a bone in her right foot in Sunday's game, which will put her out for rest of season as well. Katrina Stroh (Federal Way, Wash.) and DeWitt both went down with ankle injuries in the first half of the USC game, and although they are day-to-day they will both travel and are expected to play.