Two take home weekly honors
SAN FRANCISCO – For the first time since the 2018 season the Cougars nabbed two Pac-12 weekly awards as freshman Nadia Cooper was named Goalkeeper of the Week while fifth-year Sydney Pulver took home Defensive Player of the Week as announced by the conference office Monday afternoon. The pair of first-time winners were the first duo of WSU honorees since Morgan Weaver (Offensive) and Rachel Johnson (Goalkeeper) earned two of the three weekly awards on Oct. 30, 2018.
Cooper and Pulver join Bridget Rieken as Cougs to win weekly awards in 2021 after the standout centerback was named defensive player of the week Sept. 6. Cooper is the first WSU goalkeeper of the week since Marissa Zucchetto was named the conference's top netminder to close the spring season the year prior.
In a season that defensively is shaping up to be a historic run for the Cougs, Cooper and Pulver have been square in the middle of all the action. Cooper, who assumed the starting role between the posts in early September, and Pulver, the Cougs' holding defensive midfielder, have helped WSU put together a record run over the last month of play having recorded six-consecutive shutouts to break the previous mark set in 2013. The Cougars have conceded just three goals on the year, tied for the best mark in all of Division I soccer.
The weekend was no different for the Cougs as WSU swept their road trip to the Rocky Mountains for the first time since 2015, earning a pair of shutouts at Utah and Colorado. The pair of cleansheets ran the Cougs' season total to nine including a perfect six of six on the road in 2021.
For Cooper, the weekend run of excellence continued a streak of stellar play for the breakout freshman in goal. In seven career appearances and 495:00 minutes, Cooper has yet to concede, setting a freshman record for the Cougs and threatening the all-time mark of 512:11 minutes put down by all-time great Gurveen Clair in that historic 2013 campaign. All five of Cooper's starts have been away from Lower Soccer Field as she has picked up five wins and four solo shutouts while sharing a fifth shutout with Zucchetto at Northern Colorado.
While not tested often thanks to the Cougs' constant pressure in the attack and smothering defense in the back, Cooper was always up to the task when called upon including posting a season-high five saves Sunday at Colorado. Not only did Cooper stop every shot that came her way she even got into the offensive attack herself with the game-winning assist in the 58' minute to Elyse Bennett. The goalkeeper assist was the first for a Coug netminder since Rachel Johnson tallied the offensive stat in WSU's 3-0 win over Idaho, Sept. 6, 2018.
In Pulver, the Cougs' soft-spoken leader continued her excellent play in the midfield, putting together another pair of contests that while quiet on the stat sheet played loudly on the field. Always a calming presence, Pulver became the program's all-time leader in matches played Thursday at Utah appearing in her record-setting 87th contest, a mark she added to Sunday in her home state at Colorado. When asked to push out of the back and into the attack, Pulver has responded with two goals and two assists on the year as WSU's primary set piece distributor.
Cooper, Pulver, and the rest of the Cougs are back on the pitch Thursday, Oct. 7 to face off against No. 7 Stanford at 5 p.m. at Lower Soccer Field. The game can be seen on the Pac-12 Network.