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EWU women’s soccer falls to USC in double overtime

By Jeremy Burnham, Reporter

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100 minutes, 17 seconds. That’s how long it took for USC, the defending national champions, to defeat the EWU women’s soccer team on Saturday. In a game that saw the underdogs lead for almost the entire first half, the Eagles fell 2-1 in double overtime to the same team that ended their season in 2016. The loss brought an end to EWU’s most successful season in program history.

The Big Sky Conference champions entered the NCAA Division I Championship Tournament as heavy underdogs. When the game started, however, they came out firing.  Less than two minutes into the game, senior forward—and BSC all-time leading scorer—Chloe Williams had her first shot. A few minutes later, before USC was able to get their first shot off, senior midfielder Aimie Inthoulay fired a shot on goal that bounced off the hands of USC freshman goalkeeper Kaylie Collins. The ball ricocheted to Williams, who sent it into the back of the net. This would be the final goal of Williams’ illustrious four years at EWU. It was No. 12 for the year, and No. 44 for her career.

The goal showed that the Eagles belonged on the same field as the Trojans.  USC head coach Keidane McAlpine was not surprised to see the Eagles come out and play his team tough.

“First and foremost I have to give a lot of credit to Eastern Washington,” McAlpine said following the game. “We knew they would be a lot more comfortable coming in here to play… And they showed their class today. They showed why they won their league and are in the national tournament. Honestly I thought for a large part of the game they were better than us.”

EWU’s goal seemed to wake up the Trojan players. While the Eagles were leading the USC 4-0 in shots at that point, things would quickly swing the other way. The Trojans finished the first half leading 14-6 in shots as the Eagles struggled to maintain possession. Despite the shot advantage, USC was unable to beat EWU senior goalkeeper Emily Busselman before halftime.

USC would finally get their first goal five minutes into the second half. Senior forward Alex Anthony beat Busselman to tie the game at one. While no one else would score for the rest of regulation, USC controlled the ball for the majority of the game’s remainder. The Eagles defense prevented quality chances for USC, and Busselman continued to play well. Regulation ended with EWU surviving the final five minutes, in which USC outshot them 4-0.

Neither team would score during the first overtime. The second overtime was only 17 seconds old, however, when USC junior forward Erika Okuma was able to win the game for the Trojans.

Still, the Eagles gave the defending national champions everything they could handle. EWU head coach Chad Bodnar was proud of his team’s effort.

“This is a tremendous group,” said Bodnar. “We battled and came out and scored early on them and really defended well and hard. We worked hard and we put up a great performance. We were hoping to get that last goal and have things go our way at the end.”

The Eagles end the 2016-17 season with a record of 16-6-1. It is their best record in program history. They now look forward to next season. 2018 will see a lot of changes for the Eagles, as 10 seniors played their final game on Saturday.

“Thank you, to the seniors,” Bodnar said. “They have done some tremendous things in the course of four years. That senior class is a special group, they never quit and they battled together for four years. I’m definitely proud of all of them.”

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EWU women’s soccer falls to USC in double overtime