Saturday, November 8, 2014

Gonzaga blanked 3-0 by Portland in season finale Saturday

Having already reached a program-best four wins in the West Coast Conference, the Gonzaga women were hoping to make it five and finish alone in fourth - and potentially tie for third - with a positive result against visiting University of Portland, but the Pilots were up against a wall trying to avoid the worst conference finish in program history. In the end, visitors topped the Zags on Senior Day, 3-0, in a game that was far more evenly played than the score indicated.

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Eight minutes in the Bulldogs nearly opened the scoring when Karley Baggerly took the ball down the right side and sent a waist-high ball in to the top of the six where Kasey Rubosky (Spokane, WA) got her boot to it only to see goalkeeper Hanna De Haan snare it.

The visitors gained control of the outcome 16 minutes in when Devlyn Jeter took the ball on a run up the left side, entering the box at the outer corner of the area and driving just outside the left side of the six before releasing a shot toward the far post. Goalkeeper Christie Tombari (Spokane Valley, WA) stretched out to get her hand to it, but the rebound trickled away to the right, allowing Parkes Kendrick to smack home the empty-netter.

In the 24th minute Tombari came up with a nice reaction save when a shot from Noelle LaPrevotte took a shot from the outer left corner of the area that deflected off Sarah Carter on its way toward the near post.

Five minutes before the break Gonzaga nearly tied things up when Heather Johnson (Kennewick, WA) took the ball up the right and crossed it into the center of the area. Tori Lee flicked a header toward the far left post, but De Haan made a great outstretched dive to parry it away for a corner.

Having played an even half, barring the scoreline, it looked like things would be close going into the intermission, but a ball back out from the left corner to defender Ariel Valeri with plenty of space in the final moments of the half and unleashed a fantastically driven 25-yard shot from outside the arc that sailed into the upper right corner out of Tombari's reach with 14 seconds remaining.

Gonzaga came out and nearly cut into the deficit six minutes into the second half when Johnson fired a shot from about 12 yards that nearly snuck inside the right post before a diving save gave them a corner kick instead.

In the 68th Baggerly was played through into the area. She cut the shot from about eight yards - outside the left corner of the six - toward the far post, but De Haan lunged out to knock it away. Mikayla Anderson (Spokane, WA) was in the vicinity of the rebound, but was unable to acquire it for a second chance. Three minutes later Johnson and Cassie Geerdts, respectively, each had the ball in the box with their back to goal on the same play, but were unable to turn and get a shot off.

As the Zags began to look for an answer, the Pilots grew more confident in possession in the offensive end and forced several nice saves in the second half from Tombari, who made five second half stops for nine total.

The one shot Tombari couldn't stop, however, was the penalty from Rebekah Kurle in the 79th minute after Boston Griffiths was taken down near the spot by Carter.

Gonzaga completed the season tied for fifth in the conference with Portland, both finishing 4-4-1 in the WCC. The four WCC victories was the most in program history for the Zags, who finished with three wins several times previously. They were 9-9-1 overall.

"We certainly made some strides this year, and I thought our competitiveness has certainly improved. I think the next piece is to add a bit more consistency to take that to getting five wins," Gonzaga head coach Amy Edwards said after the game. " I told them today did not define us. It did not define our team; it did not define our season. There is so much we have accomplished this year, and we have to remember that we've got to continue to build because we want to keep growing this and keep getting better within the WCC. I think we are well on our way, and a lot of it is due to that senior class."

That senior class included plenty of talented players that comprised much of the team's core group out on the pitch, four of them starting all 19 games this season. Playing their final game for the Zags were Mikayla Anderson, Cassie Geerdts, Cricket Harber, Tori Lee, Katey Pennington, Kasey Rubosky and Jordan Travis.

"This group has been around for us for a long time. When you think about the amount of minutes that group has played for this program over the last four years has been pretty incredible. They began playing a lot of minutes as some young players, and certainly helped this program grow and been the foundation of this improvement with our program. We're truly thankful to them, and I wish we would have been able to give them this win to end their career, because I felt that they have given us so much."

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