Five Cougs Earn All-Region Honors
Kansas City, MO - A program record five Cougars were named to the 2021 United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division I Women's All-Pacific Region Team as announced by the organization Monday afternoon. Elyse Bennett, Nadia Cooper, and Mykiaa Minniss each took home first team honors while Sydney Pulver and Sydney Studer were named to the season team. The five honorees tied for the most in the Pac-12 region alongside of UCLA as both teams put three on the first team and two on the second team. The three first teamers were the most for the Cougs in program history and just the second time WSU put multiple players on the first team joining the 2007 squad which had two first team members on the Soccer Buzz All-West Region First Team.
All five Cougars were first time recipients of the all-region honor. As first team all-region awardees, Bennett, Cooper, and Minniss are now eligible for all-america honors which will be released later in the week at the College Cup.
For Bennett, Cooper, and Minniss, the all-region selection comes alongside of First Team All-Pac-12 honors which the trio took home earlier in the month at the completion of the regular season. Bennett completed her career in the Crimson and Gray among the all-time leaders in scoring notching 26 goals and 12 assists in her career. On the year, Bennett posted career numbers finishing the season with 10 goals and four assists for a team-best 24 points.
Cooper's first year on the Palouse was one for the record books as she was named the Pac-12's Goalkeeper and Freshman of the Year for her play between the posts. She becomes the first freshman in program history to be named a first team all-region honoree and is the first freshman to earn all-region honors since all-time great Ella Dederick earned third team honors in 2015 as a redshirt-freshman. On the year Cooper was one of the best in the nation in goal for the Cougs as she finished the year 10-1-3 between while tallying seven solo shutouts despite not taking over the starting job until Sept. 12. She would go on to set the Cougs' all-time record for consecutive shutout minutes with 523:56 minutes to begin her career, snapping all-time great Gurveen Clair's record set in 2013. In addition, Cooper became the first true freshman in program history to record shutouts in her first two career starts. In 15 appearances, Cooper allowed just 10 goals, finishing the season with a 0.617 goals against average, the third best average in program history for a Coug.
Earning her first all-region award, Minniss captained the Cougs' defense to a historic season as WSU finished the year with 13 shutouts, second best in program history. In all, the Cougs allowed just 13 goals and posted a 0.62 goals against average, the second best average in program history. With Minniss in the middle the Cougs captured the program's consecutive shutout minute record with nearly a full month of shutout soccer posting a record 578:45 minutes of scoreless soccer before seeing their run snapped. In a possible 1978:36 minutes, Minniss played a team-high 1949 minutes, rarely leaving the pitch. Offensively, Minniss tallied one assist on the year against Arizona.
The anchor in the middle, Pulver earned her first postseason award recognition of her career with her selection to the all-pacific region second team. The iron woman of Cougar soccer, Pulver finished her career the all-time leader in games played (98) and games started (91) including playing in and starting all 21 contests in 2021. A two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week, Pulver made her presence felt on both sides of the field leading the Cougs to 13 shutouts on the year while also finishing third on the team in points scored. In her final season, Pulver put together a career campaign netting six goals and tallying five assists. She did the bulk of her damage as the Cougs' penalty taker netting four of her six goals from the spot, a Coug record and the third most penalty goals in the nation. One of her four came in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as the super senior netted a goal and added an assist in the WSU's victory over Montana at home to begin the postseason.
The newest Coug, Studer continued her excellent play in the midfield in her first year at WSU as the fourth-year star earned her second-straight all-region second team award. A spark plug in the middle of the field, Studer took over the Cougs' midfield attack as she scored two goals and recorded a team-high six assists in 2021 including one in the Cougs' 3-0 win over Montana in her first career postseason contest. The senior transfer really made her mark down the stretch in Pac-12 play as she scored a brilliant game-tying goal against UCLA Oct. 24 to help WSU earn the draw against the conference champion Bruins and kick off the team's late season push towards the postseason. She continued her stellar play in the final weeks of the season as she recorded game-winning assists against both Oregon State and Washington to close out the regular season. Her three games with an assist at the end of the season tied the program record for consecutive contests with an assist, tbecomign the 10th Coug to achieve the feat.