SEATTLE – Washington women’s soccer has reached the crucial point in the season, coming home for the final three conference games. This week, the Dawgs (7-6-4, 3-1-4 Pac-12) host No. 7 Stanford (12-3-1, 5-3-0 Pac-12) and No. 21 California (9-3-5, 2-3-3 Pac-12) with huge conference and NCAA Tournament ramifications on the line.
Thursday night, Washington hosts Stanford for a 7 p.m. game that will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks. Sunday, the Dawgs will host California for a 2 p.m. match that will be broadcast on ESPNU and online at the link above.
Washington is coming off a pair of draws in the desert. The Dawgs earned a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Arizona State, before losing a 2-0 lead in an eventual 2-2 tie with Arizona. While earning points in conference matches on the road is never a bad thing, it does leave some work to do for Washington this week.
The Dawgs are currently tied for fourth in a jumbled Pac-12 race. UCLA leads the way with 20 points and at this point is the heavy favorite to hang on for the conference title. The Bruins are unbeaten in the Pac-12 with one of their two blemishes being a 0-0 draw with Washington. After the Bruins, things are wide open. Stanford is currently second with 15 points, Utah third with 14, followed by the Dawgs, Colorado and Washington State with 13 points. To show the strength of the conference, Cal is ranked in the top-25, but currently in ninth place in the Pac-12.
Washington is also in the quick of the NCAA Tournament picture. The Dawgs current RPI is 55, but have games remaining against three teams with top-30 RPI’s. Some strong results over the final three games will easily move the Dawgs back into the 40’s of RPI and strong NCAA consideration.
The strength of the Washington team continues to be the defense. The Dawgs have a goal allowed average of 0.771, which is 42nd in the nation. Megan Kufeld has been outstanding in goal, making 74 saves this season and posting seven shutouts.
Offensively, the Dawgs have four goals in the last three games, including a pair from Kate Bennett. She has taken over the team lead with four this season. Lindsay Elston leads the Huskies with five assists. Washington remains undefeated this season (7-0-4) when they score at least one goal. In the six losses, the Dawgs have been shutout each time.
Stanford comes into Thursday’s game having won three in a row, after losing three straight. The Cardinal had won 44-consecutive conference games before that uncharacteristic losing streak. After winning four-straight conference titles, it appears that UCLA will overtake the Cardinal this season. Still, Stanford has 34 goals on the year to just 12 allowed. Courtney Verloo leads Stanford with nine goals and six assists, while transfer Taylor Uhl has 10 goals. The Dawgs last defeated the Cardinal in 2004 with a 1-0 double-overtime victory in Seattle.
Cal comes in winless in its last five games after going through the conference season unbeaten. The Golden Bears had surprising losses at both Oregon State and Oregon last weekend. Cal has scored 29 goals this season, while allowing 14, but has scored just twice in the last five games. The Dawgs are an even 2-2-1 in their last five against head coach Lesle Gallimore’s alma mater.
Following the game this week, the Dawgs will host Washington State on Friday, November 8 at 1 p.m. That game will be part of a day/night doubleheader with the men’s team and also senior day for the Washington women.