SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University women’s soccer head coach Amy Edwards kept telling her players that the hard work and struggles they were going through were going to pay off. Her words rang true Friday at the Gonzaga Soccer Field as the Bulldogs defeated Loyola Marymount University 2-0 - who was riding a three-game winning streak that included a 3-0 blanking of then-No. 15 Pepperdine University - for their first West Coast Conference win in 16 matches dating back to the 2010 campaign.
Gonzaga tied the nationally prominent University of Portland earlier this season and battled both No. 5 BYU and No. 19 Santa Clara to the final whistle last weekend. The Zags talented play finally equaled a victory Friday and improved their record to 7-9-1 overall and 1-4-1 in league. The Lions fell to 9-6-2 overall and 3-3-0 in the WCC.
“We hammered home with our players that the struggles we have gone through, including three-straight tough matches on the road, were going to garner results soon,” explained Edwards after the match. “We just knew if we kept battling, kept training hard, kept fighting, kept competing we were going to see a payoff. We saw that today.”
It was an early goal on the rainy and cold day that set the tone for Gonzaga. Freshman Lauren Luke notched her third goal of the season at the 6:03 mark when she one-touched a cross played in by sophomore Tori Lee into the bottom left corner of the net.
“We knew we needed to set the tempo and rhythm early,” said Edwards. “LMU is a very good team and were riding high with a lot of positive energy and we wanted to take the wind out of them with getting an early goal. We did that with Lauren’s goal.”
Gonzaga had ample opportunities to score the insurance goal, including a diving header by sophomore Kasey Rubosky that clanked off the left post and a breakaway by Cricket Harber that saw her shot go wide right, but it wasn’t until the 72nd minute it found the elusive second goal.
It was Harber that found the back of the net. Lee played in a perfect corner kick that Harber headed in for her first goal of the season. She is now the 10th player to score this year for Gonzaga.
“We realized we needed to fight for a second goal and that second goal was crucial for us,” explained Edwards.
The insurance goal was big for Gonzaga as the Lions threw lots of numbers at the Zags down the stretch.
Also equally big for GU was senior keeper Susan Brown as she came up with two of her four saves in the second half, including a monster save on Brianne Medved’s 18-yard blast that she punched over the crossbar in the 84th minute.
“Susan was world class today,” said Edwards. “What she did today is what she is capable of doing every match and I thought it provided great energy for us and it sealed the match off late.”
LMU did out shoot the GU 18-16 but both squads had five shots on goal.
Gonzaga looks to build on this victory when it matches up with No. 18 Pepperdine University Sunday at the Gonzaga Soccer Field. The match against the second-place team in the WCC is set for 1 p.m.