SPOKANE, Wash. – Despite putting on a dominating performance, the Gonzaga University women’s soccer team dropped a heartbreaking 1-0 decision to No. 22 University of Washington Friday afternoon at the Gonzaga Soccer Field.
The Huskies (6-0-0) scored the lone goal of the match on their only shot on goal the entire 90 minutes.
“They have one shot on goal and they score,” said head coach Amy Edwards after the tough loss. “They had scored 12 goals in the prior five matches so that alone tells you that our defense played brilliantly today expect for that first 11 minutes of the second half.”
The Huskies match-winner came at the 55:41 mark, a little less than 12 minutes into the final half, when Jaclyn Softli notched her first goal of the season off a cross by Hillary Zevenbergen.
Prior to that goal and after that goal, the match was dominated by Gonzaga (5-2-0). The Bulldogs, who finished the match with 14 shots, including seven on target, had ample opportunities in the first 45 minutes but couldn’t break the goal line.
“The first 45 minutes we held the good portion of the tempo and rhythm,” explained Edwards. “We outshot them and it was really unfortunate we didn’t put one away.”
The Zags got four shots off in the first 10 minutes, including two that tested UW keeper Kari Davidson.
It was freshman Heather Johnson that gave the Husky defense trouble in the early moments, finding openings on the flank to get crosses off and mustering shots herself.
“Heather was the most creative player today,” said Edwards. “She was dangerous down the flank and was creative in 1-v-1 situations, which showed with her team-high five shots.”
Gonzaga’s best chance came 22 minutes into the match. Sophomore Tori Lee took a corner kick that found the head of Johnson but it clanked off the crossbar out of bounds. Lee again served up a perfect corner kick nine minutes later that sophomore Cricket Harber got a head on, but this time it went straight to Davidson.
“We had the dangerous opportunities in the first half,” Edwards said. “We were so unfortunate to not get anything out of those efforts. It was a little bit deflating and it deflated us going into halftime to have so much of an offensive presence and have nothing to show for it.”
Despite going down 1-0 early in the second half, Gonzaga continued to fight hard. The Zags had six shots in the final 45 minutes and were awarded six corner kicks, including a succession of three in the 65th minute. Harber once again got a head on the third of the three corner kicks but it went just wide right of the goal.
“We never quit fighting,” explained Edwards. “That is the great thing about this team, in the leadership we have we continue to fight and battle till the end.”
Continuing to fight was helped by the massive Bulldog dominated crowd of 1,130; second highest attended match in women’s soccer history. The only match higher was when Gonzaga tied Santa Clara in double-overtime in 2005. That match had a crowd of 1,164.
“Today was not only a great match between two talented squads but it also had a great atmosphere,” explained Edwards. “We are so thankful for the fans that attended and continued to cheer and clap till the final whistle blew.”
The Bulldogs now look to quickly put the loss behind them as they are back in action Sunday when they host Seattle University at 1 p.m.