SEATTLE – It’s game week for the Washington women’s soccer team. Before the Dawgs take the field on Friday when they host Kentucky at 7 p.m., GoHuskies.com will take a look at the team for the upcoming season. Monday, it’s the defense.
Washington is in good shape in goal with the return of Megan Kufeld. The redshirt sophomore got her first taste of the starting job after sitting behind Kari Davidson for two seasons. Kufeld earned All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention after eight shutouts and 88 saves, while playing nearly every minute of the season. The academically talented Kufeld also earned a call-up to the U.S. U-23 National Team camp where she furthered her experience and confidence. She’ll enter the 2014 season as the undisputed starter and co-captain that should be one of the top goalkeepers not only in the Pac-12, but the nation.
The Dawgs are also happy with their depth at goalkeeper with Madi McNamara and Tori Burns pushing Kufeld. In addition, Washington has a talented young keeper in Sarah Shimer, but she is done for the year after a knee injury in the spring. McNamara redshirted last season, but will be ready if called upon with a year for training under her belt. Burns is also much improved and in the mix for the backup position.
Gallimore on the Goalkeepers:
“We feel really good about our goalkeeping group. Obviously, we’d feel better if we had our fourth goalkeeper, Sarah Shimer, who tore her ACL in the spring. Maddie and Tori have done a great job in the offseason improving their games to the point where they are pushing Megan. Megan’s two cycles with the U-23’s really showed her what is out there and how she can improve. She had a solid year last year, but I think can take another step forward this season.”
The backline was a strength last season and should continue to be in 2014 despite losing two starters. Gone are center back Molly Boyd and right back Lindsey Bos who helped Washington to just 17 goals allowed in 20 games a year ago. Despite the losses, the depth and talent at the position should not be an issue. Returning are starters Allyson Brahs at center back and Havana McElvaine at left back, but they are being pushed by the return of injured players Sami Page and Stine Schoening and the emergence of McKenzie Karas and newcomer Dominique Bond-Flasza.
At outside back, Page redshirted last year after tearing her ACL, but is back to 100 percent and along with Bond-Flasza are pushing McElvaine for the two spots. McElvaine was a Pac-12 All-Freshman Team member last year and provides a great attacking presence down the wing, but will need to shore up her defense with the increased competition. Bond-Flasza is athletically ahead of most freshman and looks like she belongs on the field right away. Katey Fawcett and Paige Serwold are also in the mix at the position. Fawcett brings speed and great toughness for her size, while Serwold needs to overcome an early season injury and get back to full strength.
Gallimore on the Outside Backs:
“Outside back is probably our deepest position and I don’t think anyone has really sewn up a spot yet. Sami was just OK in the spring coming off that injury, but whatever she did during the summer has gotten her ready to play. She has looked great in preseason and has the speed to get up and down the line. Dominique has come in and impressed us as a freshman. She has the athleticism to get up and down the line too, but also has shown that she is a great 1 v 1 defender. Havana played a ton as a freshman, but is going to be pushed this year. She had some great games for us, but was also a little bit inconsistent. I think the competition is going to help her because she knows what she needs to improve on to shore up that spot. On the left side, she has that great left foot and can shoot from range. We don’t question her attacking ability, it is being consistent defensively against some of the top players. Katey is another one that can get up and down the line. She defends well for her size so now it is about how she can help us build out of the back and attack. Paige is battling an injury right now, but she is improved and I think will be in the mix sooner than later.”
At center back, Brahs emerged last season to become one of the Huskies most consistent players. She being challenged by Schoening and Karas with just two spots for three players. Schoening was supposed to be a starter in 2013, but was lost early on with a quad injury. She earned her medical redshirt and is back for a fifth season this year. Karas is an imposing physical presence and perhaps the Huskies best ball-winner in the air. She has battled injuries early in her career, but appears to be a prime breakout candidate in 2014. Despite having only two spots for three important players, all three could see the field at the same time as Karas and Brahs have experience in a defensive midfield position. Kristie Braken-Guelke is the newcomer at the position and is behind after an injury this summer. Still, she could get in the mix as the season goes on and is expected to be an important player down the road.
Gallimore on the Center Backs:
“Stine returns as a fifth-year senior with a ton of experience and desire to finish her career strongly. McKenzie is the fittest she has been since she has been here. She tore her ACL on letter of intent day when she was still in high school, which made her first year here tough. Her second year she was still battling some things and wasn’t back to where she needed to be technically. She has really committed herself in the offseason and summer to improving. Clearly, physically she is a specimen with a great air game and with the ball can open up the field with her range of passing. Ally has been solid for a year now and just continues to look great. Kristie pulled her hamstring early in preseason and now is just starting to train consistently. She provide depth this season, but is definitely someone to look at in the future.”