|Kellyn Nelson heads in a lengthy free kick to give Gonzaga the 2-2 draw | Photos: Gerald Barnhart [gallery]|
The first strike came in the 24th minute when the visiting Cougars got a second chance following a corner kick when Gonzaga attempted to break away off the initial clearance only to have it halted, allowing Kourtney Guetlein to find Korynn Blanksma for the opening score.
“It wasn’t the best game for us, but we got a chance to look at some players and try some things,” said WSU head coach Keidane McAlpine after the match. “We had a couple people out, but all in all it was a chance to get out and play; Gonzaga did a good job.”
Four minutes later the Cougars reclaimed the lead when a failed clearance in the box allowed a limited attempt from Kayla Johnson in a challenge for the ball to hit the right post and eventually cross over the line.
Gonzaga began to find a bit more of the play in the second half, but it was a fantastic effort on a free kick from 10 yards inside the center line that put the two sides level on the day when Kellyn Nelson rose up at the top of the box to head the ball inside the right post.
While the match was first, aside from a scrimmage with the men’s club team, for Gonzaga, it was the fourth of the spring for WSU, who played to a scoreless draw in Portland against the Canadian U20 Women’s National Team two weeks ago.
“That was a great experience; playing in the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns stadium was fantastic,” said McAlpine. “The Canada U20s is a fantastic group of young women to play against. It gave our Canadians a chance to play against some of their friends so it was a great day. Decent showing. We are still working through some things this spring, but great experience.”
Prior to that the Cougars played a pair of indoor contests against Boise State, a 1-1 draw, and the University of Montana, a 2-0 win.
“The fall is gonna be good. The seven that we have coming in are gonna add some great depth to our team,” McAlpine said looking forward. “I think some of the work we are doing this spring is going to be useful for the returners to keep the (incoming freshman) off the field, but we definitely got a handful that are going to come in and push the starters. “
The Zags continue their preseason slate next week at home against Eastern Washington Saturday in a busy weekend of Bulldog soccer that will also feature a pair of men’s matches Saturday and Sunday against Northwest University and Montana State University-Billings, respectively.
The Bulldog men are back from a trip to Canada where they played Trinity Western, a 2-1 loss, and Simon Fraser (1-0 win) before wrapping up the three-day jaunt with a 4-1 loss to NASL second division pro club FC Edmonton.
Across the border from WSU, the University of Idaho Vandals got off to a rolling start with a 4-0 victory against North Idaho College but were unable to find the same scoring touch against Central Washington for a scoreless stalemate in their second outing. They wrapped things up with an alumni game and a 2-0 victory against Walla Walla CC in which Spokane Shine defender Chelsie Breen scored her third goal in as many games.