After an undefeated Big Sky record, the women’s soccer team took a big loss in the conference championship Saturday—effectively eliminating them from the NCAA tournament. The loss came as a result of a penalty kick shootout after the Vikings and Weber State’s Wildcats finished regulation and overtime tied 0–0. The Wildcats were able to make all three of their attempts, while the Vikings missed all three of theirs. The Vikings’ last shootout loss, also against Weber State, came in 2011 when the Wildcats topped the Vikings 4–3 in a shootout in the semifinals of the 2011 Big Sky Tournament. Portland State had never lost a shootout in a championship match before Saturday.
Although PSU might have taken the loss over the weekend, no one could be disappointed in the game they played. Both teams had chances to score during regulation and overtime, but each side’s defense held firm. The Wildcat goalkeeper was under constant pressure, making a total of six saves. Weber State came back from this early pressure with an attempt to draw out PSU goalkeeper Caitlin Plese on a couple balls into the box in the first half, but the ball bounced the PSU defense’s way each time.
From that point on, the game was a flurry of close calls on both sides. However, once in overtime, both goalkeepers made saves to keep the tie intact. Overtime was gut-wrenching, with Plese saving a shot off another Wildcat set piece in the first overtime and Weber State keeper Ryann Waldmann saving a shot from PSU’s Melissa Bishop with less than three minutes to go in the second overtime.
The game-ending shootout did not count against either goalkeeper statistically, as both Plese and Waldmann earned individual shutouts in the match Saturday. For Plese, Saturday’s game gave her 11 shutouts for the season, breaking PSU’s previous record of eight. Plese’s 2013 season also stands second all-time in goals-against average (0.65) and goalkeeper wins (12) at PSU.
Additionally, Plese and Waldmann each made the Big Sky All-Tournament Team, while Waldmann was named Tournament MVP. Four Vikings joined Plese on the Big Sky All-Tournament Team: sophomore midfielder Tamia Hasan, junior defender Kayla Henningsen, junior forward Eryn Brown and sophomore midfielder Emma Cooney.
Saturday’s result will probably mean the end of the season for the Vikings, who are now unlikely to be a recipient of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Regardless of this weekend’s results, PSU played one of their most successful seasons in school history these past few months and made Weber State work for their victory. PSU head coach Laura Schott challenged these women to perform at their absolute best, and she believes they delivered. With a team full of lowerclassmen, there is a strong chance that most of the same players will be on the team next year. With a season of experience, Viking fans should be keeping an eye out next year—this team has unfinished business to take care of.