Washington State women’s soccer hardly had time on the ball. UCLA had dominated possession throughout Sunday’s game and held the lead since the 18th minute.
Still, the Cougars managed to stay in the game. Their play grew with each passing minute. Then, in the 75th minute, they struck pay dirt and tied the game 1-1.
The Bruins had been here before – 15 minutes left in regulation and facing the possibility of a fifth straight overtime.
“When they scored, I was like ‘No!’” said coach Amanda Cromwell. “I was just like, ‘Alright, we got to get it back now.’”
Cromwell’s team listened.
Less than a minute later, senior midfielder Gabbi Miranda unleashed a strike from the semicircle that left Washington State’s goalkeeper helpless.
UCLA would not relinquish the 2-1 lead and, for the first time since the 3-2 victory at Oregon, saw the game end in 90 minutes.
“First thing I said to them in the postgame meeting was ‘Well, it wasn’t overtime,’” Cromwell said. “So, we’re taking baby steps.”
The Bruins’ overtime minutes in the previous four matches add up to 51, just over half of a game.
Extra minutes on the pitch take a toll.
“In the moment we’re fine, but afterwards, knowing that we’ve had our past four games over 90 minutes is kind of shocking,” said senior forward Courtney Proctor.
Now, UCLA will look to avoid a similar streak during the final stretch of games before the NCAA Tournament starts in November.
The preventative measures begin on the defensive end, where miscues have cost the team leads in recent games and, in other cases, had the team scrambling to tie things up.
“We really want to be aware about getting the clean sheet in these games going forward,” Cromwell said.
But not everything about the overtime streak was negative. The team learned, in ways it otherwise wouldn’t have, just how sturdy they need to be when the chips are down.
“I think the best thing we got out of that is we figured out how resilient we can be,” Miranda said. “Going into postseason and the next couple of weeks it’s going to be key to remember the energy and what it took in those four games and bring it back when we need it.”