STANFORD, Calif. -- No. 3 Washington (7-0-2, 1-0-0) passed its first big test in Pac-12 play, defeating Stanford (5-2-1, 0-1-0), 3-1 with a pair of late goals. The Dawgs took an early lead, but after giving up the equalizer won it with Taylor Peay and Darwin Jones goals in the final 13 minutes.
“That is as hard of a game as we will play all year,” said head coach Jamie Clark. “Stanford plays really well against top teams because they battle and compete so well.”
The Dawgs struck first with the initial chance from either team. In the 11th minute, Jones chased down a ball headed towards the right corner flag, controlled and sent a cross into the box. Awaiting the cross was freshman Steven Wright who missed with a header, but was able to control the ball and slide it home with his foot.
It was the first goal of Wright’s young career as he was earning just his second start. Jones picked up his second assist of the season, but he would not be done for the night.
After the goal, Washington seemed to lose some aggressiveness, while the Cardinal fought, knowing that they were down in the match. Stanford outshot Washington 10-7 for the period, but could not find a goal before the break.
After halftime, Washington began to reassert themselves in the game as each side created chances. The Cardinal would take a page out of the Huskies’ book, scoring off a set piece to even up the game. Stanford drew a foul on the left flank and Aaron Kovar bent in a free kick that Matt Taylor was able to head past UW goalkeeper Ryan Herman.
It was just the fourth goal allowed by Herman, who would go on to make three saves and stay unbeaten with a record of 4-0-1 as the starter.
“The subs were great,” said Clark. “It was nice to see our depth come through and I thought those guys really added something to the game.”
The equalizing goal from the Cardinal also seemed to switch momentum as Washington became the desperate team, not wanting lose a game that they led. The Dawgs created chances in the Stanford end and it was a Justin Schmidt throw to the box was headed out of bounds that set up the key corner kick.
Jones took the corner and swung a ball towards the back post and the top of the six-yard box. On the spot was Taylor Peay who redirected the cross with his head towards the back post and into the goal for what would turn out to be the game winner.
Peay, a senior defender, scored his fifth goal of the season, despite only being credited with seven shots all year. Darwin Jones picked up his second assist of the game and third of the season with a perfectly placed corner kick.
“That was extremely timely because our backs were up against the wall at that point,” said Clark. “It’s exactly what you want from your senior captain. He is getting double-teamed on every set piece, but is so strong that he was able to fight to get his head on the ball.”
Washington wasn’t done, however. Jones would seal the victory with a great goal off a counter-attack. The Husky forward took a pass near midfield and dribbled towards goal, taking advantage of Stanford pushing players forward. Jones pushed the ball to the right, but cut his shot back across the defender and into the far post for the clinching goal. It was the third goal in four games for Jones who appears to have found his form in his first season at Washington.
The junior transfer finished with a goal and two assists and now has eight points in his last four games.
“That was the best game Darwin has played this year,” said Clark. “He was just fantastic with the ball at his feet, which was great to see.”
The victory gave Washington a crucial win in Pac-12 play and also set up the showdown at No. 1 California on Sunday. The Golden Bears also remained unbeaten on Friday, defeating Oregon State, meaning Sunday’s 11 a.m. match will be for the Pac-12 lead and potentially the nation’s top ranking. The huge early season contest will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks.