WSU SOCCER NOTEBOOK
The Washington State soccer team’s biggest week in history got bigger Thursday.
Less than 24 hours before the Cougars’ College Cup game against No. 2 North Carolina (4 p.m., ESPNU), star forward Morgan Weaver was named a third-team All-American by United Soccer Coaches.
The senior is just the second Cougar to earn an All-American honor, joining fellow forward Micaela Castain who earned the honor in 2013.
Weaver’s prolific scoring has sparked WSU since she joined the program in 2016.
After a slow start to 2019, Weaver exploded with six goals in the Cougars’ final two regular-season home games — wins against Utah and Colorado.
The University Place product leads WSU with 14 goals on the year and 42 on her career — good for second place in the school’s record book. She leads the team with three goals in the NCAA tournament.
Weaver has accounted for 43 percent of her team’s scoring in a year the Cougs have posted their third-most goals in history and most in the past 26 seasons.
GOLDEN GIRL — The Cougars received their golden goal from an unlikely source in their overtime win Nov. 29 at No. 5 South Carolina in the Elite Eight.
Before WSU went up for a corner kick, center back Mykiaa Minniss asked coach Todd Shulenberger if she could go up too. Normally, the sophomore stays back to make sure the opposing team can’t counter if the corner kick goes awry.
“She looked at me right before the corner kick and said, ‘Can I go up?’ and I said, ‘Let’s go for it.’” Shulenberger said.
The risk worked to perfection.
Hannah Goff fired the ball high into the center of the box where Gamecocks senior midfielder Rebecca Koch tried to head the ball away from the chaos. Instead, the ball sailed to the waiting foot of Minniss behind the scrum.
Washington State 1, South Carolina 0.
After her goal, Minniss sprinted down the field with her arms in the air before her teammates mobbed her in a dog-pile celebration of their first College Cup appearance.
“I just remember someone hitting it over to me and I just kicked it and then I was off for the races,” Minniss recalled at a practice this week. “That’s all I really remember. I was going crazy.”
Shulenberger said he had a feeling the Cougs were going to capitalize on the corner.
“This is the honest-to-goodness truth,” he said. “I told the team, ‘We’re going to score here. Get ready to go crazy.’ And sure enough, Hannah served the ball, (Koch) flicked it in the wrong direction and fortunately Mickey put it right in the back of the net.”
SECOND CHANCE — When WSU goalkeeper Ella Dederick suffered a season-ending knee injury against Idaho six games into the 2018 season, the Cougs feared her career might be done.
But WSU’s all-time winningest goalkeeper was granted a sixth year of eligibility at the end of the year because of medical hardship.
As a result, Dederick has played a key part in WSU’s best season in program history.
Like Weaver, Dederick had a slow start, but — also like Weaver — she got stronger as the season continued, and now she’s playing some of her best soccer.
Dederick owns three shutouts and 16 saves in four NCAA tournament games.
“She’s confident, she’s a leader,” Shulenberger said. “She’s gotten emotionally upset I think after each win because it’s getting closer and closer (to the end) for her and these seniors know that they want to absorb and embrace every moment, and they want to continue to play.
“And they have a chance (today) to play again, and that’s what’s important. And Ella’s definitely helping us lead the way here.”
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @StephanSports.