SEATTLE -- The long wait for the 2014 women's soccer season is over as the Huskies got their preseason underway on Wednesday. Washington held its first practice on a perfect sunny day in the Pacific Northwest.
After a strong spring season and a summer of conditioning, the first day back at full practice was a welcomed sight for a hungry Husky squad looking to erase a bit of a disappointing 2013.
Last year, the Dawgs finished 7-9-4 with seven of those losses coming by a single goal. A team poised for another run in the NCAA Tournament instead saw the season come to an end earlier than expected.
The finish only inspired the returning Huskies, however. A renewed dedication and focus on team has the 2014 team quietly confident despite low expectations. The Dawgs did not receive a single vote in the recently released preseason NSCAA poll, but UW will only use that as motivation.
Washington is coming off a spring that included a 4-1-0 record with the only loss coming to the Seattle Reign, the current leaders of the NWSL table. The spring included a 4-1 win over Seattle U. and a 3-0 defeat of Portland, both NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago.
The 2014 squad will have a new look with six departed seniors that played important roles to last year's team. Returning, however, is leading scorer Kate Bennett and standout goalkeeper Megan Kufeld, along with several breakout candidates with experience at the college level. The Dawgs also have a talented group of freshmen that could make an immediate impact.
Washington opens the season for real on Friday, August 22, when Kentucky comes to the Husky Soccer Field.
One absentee from the first Husky practice was redshirt-sophomore Amanda Perez who is with Mexico at the U-20 Women's World Cup in Canada. Perez and team Mexico opened group play on Wednesday, earning a 1-1 draw with Nigeria.
Perez earned the start for El Tri, helping bolster the attack when Mexico took a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute. Nigeria would equalize in the 42nd minute and it would stay knotted at 1-1 the rest of the way.
Mexico is now in a four-way tie in Group C as England and South Korea also tied at 1-1. They will next take on England on Saturday at 10:00 a.m., PT, in Moncton, Canada.
You can follow all the action at the U-20 Women's World Cup HERE.