SEATTLE -- Washington men’ soccer kicks off the season this week when it travels to Gonzaga for the opener. The Dawgs enter the season ranked No. 23 in the country and have high expectations for 2013. GoHuskies.com will preview the season this week by looking at each class, today the seniors.
The senior class is four deep and includes three stalwarts in the Husky program, having earned letters each of the previous three seasons in Spencer Richey, Michael Harris and Taylor Peay. The final senior is a graduate student transfer from Dartmouth, Brad Jacobson.
“The seniors are three guys who have seen this program transform and been a huge part of it and then a graduate school transfer,” said head coach Jamie Clark. “Those three returners have played since day one. They are a tremendously experienced group and with that comes an expectation to win. They have earned that with their own play, the results and the team around them.”
The four seniors should be literally the backbone of the Dawgs this season as each will play up the spine of the field. Richey is an All-America level goalkeeper, while Peay will be in central defense, Harris in central midfield and Jacobson a center forward.
The senior class begins with MAC Herman Trophy candidate Spencer Richey who enters the season as one of the top goalkeepers in the country. He is one of just 31 players on the initial list for the trophy that decides the top player in the country. The All-Pac-12 goalkeeper from last season is talented and experienced in college soccer and should provide Washington with as reliable of a last line of defense as any team in the country.
“Spencer is our all-accolade goalie,” said Clark. “He is one of the best five goalies in college soccer, for sure. He is just a steady performer and was our captain during the spring. I haven’t had a question in goal since I got here and it will continue to be that way.”
Peay will provide the physical presence in the backfield for the Huskies. Another experienced player that is a ball-winner and tough competitor will be the general of the Husky defense.
“He is a defensive specialist that will start every game,” said Clark. “Taylor can play out of the back, but really he is that intimidating defender that no attacker likes to go against.”
In the central midfield is Harris who has emerged as one of the top players in conference. Perhaps known best for his flip-throws that give the Huskies extra set piece opportunities, Harris has developed an excellent all-around game. He is a great with his feet and connects passes well. The Dawgs lost Ben Fisk to graduation, but Harris will step up into the glue-guy role in the middle of the field.
“Michael is another tough ball-winning senior,” said Clark. “He is another player that nobody wants to play against and someone that covers more ground than anyone I have ever coached. He is a terrier and an ultra-competitive player.”
Finally, Jacobson comes to Washington to pursue his master’s degree and use his final year of eligibility. He has been a pleasant surprise for the Dawgs as a speedy forward with a great work rate that consistently gives defenders problems.
“Brad came in and had an incredible spring,” said Clark. “We didn’t realize how good he was. He played limited minutes at Dartmouth, but coming from someone that has coached in the Ivy League, I think he would have been a conference player of the year candidate if he was still in that league.”
Although just four players, the Washington senior class should go a long way to deciding the success of the 2013 squad. Right up the center of the field, the Dawgs have experienced, talented, competitive performers that are a big reason for the preseason ranking and high expectations in Montlake this season.