Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gonzaga takes two 2-1, downing Boise State and Seattle U Sunday

Gonzaga had plenty to celebrate despite a pair of tough matches | photos: Gerald Barnhart
In a pair of hard-fought, even contests the Gonzaga men’s and women’s soccer teams picked up a pair of wins Sunday afternoon at home by the same 2-1 scoreline via different but dramatic circumstances. The lady Zags topped Boise State in the opening contest with goals from Jessica Bennett and Heather Johnson while the men’s side rallied from an early deficit with back-to-back second half goals from Lars Ludwigs and Conner Bevans.

Boise State 1:2 Gonzaga – WOMEN

The first 45 was a back-and-forth contest that was summed up with the events of the final five minutes of the half. Five minutes before the break Jessica Bennett (Spokane, WA) picked up the ball just inside the box after Sila Tuiofea  collected a long Morgan Manchester (Spokane Valley) throw-in and dropped it off. Bennett drove five yards toward the right before turning and firing around a defender from about 20 yards out of inside the post out of reach of the keeper Maddy McDevitt, who had done well to close down chances inside the box throughout the match.

Parks celebrates Broncos equalizer
The advantage was wiped away moments before the intermission, however, when a looping ball from Mandy Nader back in over the top off after a corner clearance left goalkeeper Susan Brown out of position. The ball bounced in the box at the left corner of the six, giving Erica Parks (Nampa, ID) the chance to nod the ball up and over Brown, who had come out on the play.

“We felt good going into the half because at least it was back even again,” said Broncos head coach Steve Lucas. “We had some chances for sure and didn’t take advantage of it. They’re good at what they do and we didn’t handle it well today.”

Gonzaga head coach Amy Edwards made some changes at the break that paid immediate dividends. “We talked at halftime about the energy level and our energy and our transition from attacking to defending, and defending to attacking had to increase to put them under a bit more pressure. I think you saw the result of that with the goal. We certainly changed our level of effort with that. “

Just over five minutes into the second half Gonzaga reclaimed the lead with what would stand as the winner. Another throw-in created the opportunity with Tori Lee finding Heather Johnson, who fired from about 20 yards with a deflection sending it into the far side of the goal.

Johnson provided the Gonzaga winner
“Maddy’s done a great job. The first one I didn’t think she had a chance at, the second one was a deflection. So, other than that she held onto the ball all the time and didn’t put us in any bad spots,” Lucas said of McDevitt’s play aside from the two long goals.

Boise State had another late chance for an equalizer with two minutes to play. A throw-in in the offensive third was sent to Brooke Heidemann (Meridian, ID) , who popped it over the defense to Parks, but the shot from 16 yards curled just wide of the far post.

“I didn’t think we gave up good goals today,” Lucas added. “Their winner, things like that shouldn’t happen. I thought we rebounded back from Friday (a 6-0 road loss at Washington State), so it’s not too bad. It’s a road game. I think Erica did a good job of staying involved in the play, scoring and making it even.”

Looking forward, Gonzaga has distant road trip to the south for a pair of games over the holiday weekend, visiting Austin Peay in Clarksville, Tenn. Friday and Vanderbilt in Nashville Sunday.

“It’s our first real road trip this weekend, going off to Nashville and playing a team I don’t think we’ve ever played before – Vanderbilt – and Austin Peay, so looking forward to that. It’s certainly going to be hot, and the elements will be a little bit different so it will be a challenge. But that’s why we schedule those type of games.”

Boise State, meanwhile, plays host to the Bronco invitational with matches against Montana and Idaho State Friday and Sunday with the University of Idaho playing them in reverse order. 

# More highlights and quotes below

Seattle University 1:2 Gonzaga – MEN

In a physical showdown of east and west, the Redhawks took the early lead 15 minutes in when Marshall Kosaka connected on a through ball that with Race Sciabica, who fired from just inside the top of the box inside the post.

The two sides played to a stalemate for nearly an hour before the Bulldogs equalized through Lars Ludwigs, who collected the ball in the 71st minute and let loose from the edge of the area. 

“We just changed a little bit up as we were getting towards the end of the game. We went a little more direct than we had been,” said 18-year head coach Einar Thorarinsson. “Our game is really to pass and work through, but as you could see in the first half it just wasn’t going so we decided to mix it up a little bit, hit some diagonal balls over the top to open it up. And the goals both came from balls like that.”

Phillips set up the game-winner for the Bulldogs
The goal was the start of a peak in the second half action with Seattle nearly reclaiming the lead two minutes later when Miguel Gonzalez slipped inside the box for a dangerous shot from 15 yards that was well-stopped. A minute later the Redhawks would regret the missed chance.

The ball was worked up the left side to Clark Phillips, who delivered the ball inside to Conner Bevans. The freshman striker worked his way by a pair of defenders with a nice move before putting the shot inside the left post.

It was a welcome victory for the Zags, who suffered a heartbreaking loss in Seattle Friday at the hands of the University of Washington in overtime in which they saw two corners prove their undoing late in the match and in extra time.

“The first one was a handball. We were kind of disappointed with the referee not seeing that, but that’s the way it goes” Thorarinsson said. “The second one they just beat us to; we just couldn’t get to it and beat us in overtime. I think we outplayed them in that game. If you watch it, definitely we outplayed them.”

The men’s team stays home for the Gonzaga Nike Classic for the holiday weekend, facing Manhattan Friday and UC Santa Barbara Sunday. Oregon State will come up to play the same pair on opposite nights.


WOMEN: In the 13th minute a ball behind the Gonzaga defense created a chase with Lauren Hickock (Bozeman, MT) shoulder-to-shoulder with a defender just inside the box, but it was knocked away by Brown, who got to it first… Four minutes later a Bronco turnover 45 yards out came to Johnson, who drove to goal and let loose a shot as a defender closed, forcing a diving save… In the 19th minute a square ball to the right found Gonzaga’s Katey Pennington (Boise, ID) all alone, but the keeper closed the space and denied the 14 yard effort from close range… A ball fin the 24th minute rom Boise State center back Mikhaila Bowden over the top along the right flank allowed right back Whitney Peterson (Meridian), who had cheated forward, to run onto the ball unmarked, but her effort from 25 yards as the Brown came charging out narrowly missed the far post… Two minutes later Hickock looped the ball along the flank to Heidemann, who battled through the defender for a shot to the near post that hit the outside of the net… McDevitt denied another Gonzaga chance by closing down and stopping Pennington point blank in the middle of the box after she had received the ball from Emily Eckmann off a turnover and cut by a defender to leave her alone with the keeper. 

MEN: Back-to-back chances for Gonzaga in the 27th and 28th minutes. A cross from Nick Hamer (Spokane) found the head of Alec Cutter, but the effort went just wide of the upper right corner. Moments later James Mattern (Boise) blasted a shot from 30 yards that curled to the upper right corner only to find the outside of the net… In the 65th minute Nick Hamer took a shot from the right flank that forced a save at the far post by goalkeeper Jake Feener for a corner.


Steve Lucas, Boise State Head Coach

“We’re giving up too much right now and it’s still early in the season and we got a lot of games to go and we’ll go home and – we got tested more than we got tested last week – now we know what we gotta go home and work on.”

“We need to get better in the back. We need to stop giving up goals. It was the opposite from last weekend. We were on the road and we needed to change the mentality a bit. We are excited about it. We got a lot of players, we just need to regroup. We started four freshman on a very heavy roster that’s upperclassmen. I thought they did a good job today so we just got to get back and go ‘okay, now we know what it’s like at home, now we know what it’s like on the road and go from there.’”

Amy Edwards, Gonzaga Women Head Coach

On McDevitt’s play for BSU: “She did pretty solid job for them off of our services. That’s the thing; you gotta be adaptable and gotta figure out a way to break them down so we resorted to the longer range shots. Fortunately we finished them.”

“It’s still a work in progress with our back line, just understanding when to drop and when to step. Right now we’re bending, but we haven’t broken so it’s just growing every game for us, continuing to learn and grow. We’ll get things sorted out.”

Einar Thorarinsson, Gonzaga Men Head Coach

On key players for the season: “About 12-14 guys; there’s really no key yet. Conner, the freshman who scored the winner, I think is definitely somebody to watch out for in the next few years and our defense’s two center backs played well; Larson in midfield that scored the first goal, some solid players those three or four.”

On Clarke Phillips and Nick Hamer playing for Timbers U23s in PDL: “His game has come along and grown as a player. Nick, obviously, is firepower. He’s just on fire right now. I am playing him in an outside position a little bit, which is not his normal spot but he’s doing well.”