SEATTLE – Washington women’s soccer got their season off to a rousing start, defeating Kentucky, 4-1, on Friday night at the Husky Soccer Field. The Dawgs scored early and often to defeat a quality opponent on opening night of the 2014 campaign.
Washington took a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute when Jaclyn Softli got on the board. Amanda Perez won a 50-50 ball in Kentucky’s half and laid it off to Softli. The senior striker then used her dribble to create enough space for a shot. She fired low and in the corner to beat the Kentucky goalkeeper.
The goal was a welcomed sight for the Dawgs who struggled at times to finish a year ago. The goal seemed to set the tone for the rest of the night and what the Huskies hope will be a prolific attack this season.
The Dawgs struck again just five minutes later when Kate Bennett sent in a cross that sophomore Becca Schoales finished with her first touch. Bennett found space on the right wing and hit a perfect ball to Schoales who scored the fourth goal of her young career.
Kentucky tightened things up in the 21st minute by cutting the lead to 2-1. All-America candidate Arin Gilliland got free on the left wing and chipped a ball towards the back post. Whether it was intended as a cross or a shot, it was placed perfectly to beat Megan Kufeld. The goal would prove to be the only blemish of the night for Kufeld, who made three saves to earn her first win of the season.
The Wildcat goal shifted the momentum, but the Dawgs would take it back with a third goal of the half in the 34th minute. Freshman Kimberly Keever scored her first goal just moment after subbing on in her first collegiate game. Perez sent a nice cross from the right side that found the head of Keever on the back post. Not the tallest player on the field, Keever did well to win the header and put it on frame.
The goal pushed the lead back to two, which it would keep until the half. Both teams took seven shots in the first period, but it was the Huskies finishing three times to take control of the game.
The Dawgs would put the game away in the second half when Perez got on the board with the fourth goal. Havana McElvaine got free with an overlapping run on the left side and hit a cross to Perez in front of goal. Perez got her head on it to finish a third one-touch goal for Washington.
Washington outshot the Wildcats, 13-10, but it was the clinical finishing that led to the lopsided score. Kentucky entered the game receiving votes in the NSCAA national poll a year after advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but it was the Huskies that looked like the more explosive team.
The Dawgs will next host Trinity Western for an exhibition game on Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. Washington will then head out on the road for an East Coast trip to face La Salle and Pittsburgh on August 29 and 31.