Holiday's Hat Trick Helps Cougars Edge Vikings
Tonight's win was the Cougars' first this season. They moved to 1-5 (1-2, GNAC), while the Vikings dropped to 3-4-1 (1-2-1, GNAC).
The first half stats paint a pretty good picture of how tight the opening period was. WWU tackled Holiday just outside the box by committing a foul near the 19 minute mark. Holiday made them pay. He lined up for the free kick and hooked an incredible ball around both the defenders and the goalkeeper to give USF and early 1-0 lead.
Minutes later the Vikings matched the score. The Cougars had a breakdown on defense and Justin Moore juked USF's final defender and beat out the goalie to tie it up at 1-1 (22:26).
Both teams would have a couple more chances before the break, but ultimately headed into the intermission tied up at 1-1.
The competition intensity was amplified in the second half, which featured a combined 18 shots, including eight on target.
Each shot seemed closer and closer to going in, making it either team's game, but USF took hold in the 76th minute. Ryan Keohane crossed a perfect ball that Holiday struck into right net to record what would be the game-winning goal.
WWU wasn't done yet. The final 13 minutes had the home crowd at the edge of their seats, as the Vikings continued to pressure the Cougar defense firing five shots, two of which were on net.
It was only fitting that Holiday would end any concerns. In the final seconds, Kyle Simons secured a save and sent the outlet pass to Holiday who had sprinted past defenders for an empty-net goal and his first hat trick.
USF's defense and play in net has been solid all season and tonight was no different. Facing eight shots, Simons tallied seven saves and allowed only one goal in his first win this season.
The difference was the Cougar's offensive attack. WWU may have outshot USF, 16-14, but the Cougars saw a higher volume of quality chances and were able to convert them in the final 15 minutes of the game.
USF head men's soccer coach Paul Bennett was very happy with his team's efforts and spoke in this interview about the keys to tonight's win and what it means to the season.
Next, the Cougars host Montana State University-Billings Thursday, September 27 at 7p.m.