This season, the Weber State University’s women’s soccer team has had a number of games come down to the wire. On Friday night, it wasn’t any different for WSU.
The Wildcats narrowly knocked off Portland State University, winning 4-3 on penalty kicks, in the Big Sky Conference tournament, to advance to the championship match against the University of Montana. Sophomore Alyssa Amano slotted home the winning penalty kick after WSU goalie Ryann Waldman had saved the previous PSU attempt.
“I just knew that I had to do my part and put the ball in the net,” Amano said. “I was nervous, but I felt confident. I tried to keep myself calm. Ryann stepped up and made some great plays for us. It made it less pressure on me because she had stepped up and stopped the kick right before me.”
Waldman was strong in the net for the Wildcats during the game, and she tied with her career high of 12 saves in the match, but nothing was more critical than two stops she made in the penalty shootout.
In the shootout, it looked as if the Vikings had the upper hand. With the Wildcats trailing 3-2 and PSU on the verge of victory, Waldman made her first save to keep WSU in it, and on the seventh shooter, Waldman blocked Toni Carnovale’s attempt to set the stage for Amano’s game-winner.
“When I made the first one, I just reacted and I got it,” Waldman said. “And then we missed the kick and it went over. And in my head I was like, ‘I have to save this because there is going to be so much pressure on the next shooter,’ so I was like, ‘I have to make this save; there’s no if, and or but about it.’ Then I came up with the save, so it was really great.”
PSU outshot the Wildcats 22-8 through the 110 minutes of regulation play, but WSU played solid defense and forced many of the Vikings’ shots to come from outside their defensive zone.
In the second half, the Wildcats had many opportunities, and were able to cut through the PSU defense, but were unable to capitalize. Many times, when WSU would get deep into PSU’s half of the field, it would lose possession on an errant pass or turnover.
Amano said making the championship game is a big achievement for the team, but the team still feels they have unfinished business.
“I’m way excited,” Amano said. “It feels really good to get a chance to play in the championship. I feel like — I know — we have the potential to go far. We just need to play together as a team and try to control the field.”
Head Coach Tim Crompton said PSU played a good game, and while he was pleased with the Wildcat victory, there are still things the team needs to work on in preparation for the final.
“Congratulations to Portland State; they played a good game, and that’s a very difficult way to go out,” Crompton said. “As far as the game is concerned, we didn’t play as well against them as when we played them at their place. That could be because they played a better game today.”
This will be the seventh Big Sky Conference championship match for WSU, which captured league titles in 1998, 2004 and 2005. It will be the fourth title match featuring the Wildcats and Grizzlies, the two top-winning teams in Big Sky history.