SEATTLE -- No. 3 Washington (6-0-2) begins conference play this weekend with a difficult trip to the Bay Area to face Stanford (5-1-1) and No. 1 California (6-0-1). The Dawgs look to remain unbeaten against a pair of tough opponents, while also earning points on the road for what is surely going to be a highly competitive race for the Pac-12 title.
The Dawgs face Stanford on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Cardinal’s Laird Q. Cagan Stadium, before the showdown of No. 1 vs. No. 3 when they head to Berkeley to face Cal on Sunday at 11 a.m. Both games will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks.
Washington is coming off a sensational run through non-conference play and enters the Pac-12 season as one of nine remaining unbeatens in D-I. Of those, the Dawgs are one of five ranked in the top-25, along with No. 1 Cal, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 7 UMBC and No. 18 Dayton. Florida Atlantic, Winthrop, Dartmouth and UW-Milwaukee are also undefeated, but unranked.
For the season, Washington has scored 18 goals, while allowing just four. The Dawgs 2.25 goals per game ranks ninth in the nation, while their 0.47 goals allowed average ranks fifth.
Despite the top-10 offense, Washington’s leading goal scorer is center back Taylor Peay with four. The Huskies have made their mark with an incredibly balanced attack with 10 different goal scorers and six with at least two. Peay shares the team lead in points with fellow defenders Michael Harris and Justin Schmidt, who each have two goals and four assists. One notable player that has yet to score is James Moberg, but he has made his mark with a team-leading five assists.
Defensively, Washington has endured the loss of MAC Herman Trophy candidate Spencer Richey to a broken leg. The senior went 3-0-1, before being injured in a 0-0 tie at then-No. 3 Connecticut. Since then, Ryan Herman has taken over in goal, finishing off the shutout of UConn and then posting a 3-0-1 record of his own. Herman has allowed just three goals and already has two shutouts.
Last weekend, Washington faced the adversity of trailing for the first time when SMU jumped out on the Huskies with an early goal. The Dawgs responded with a Mason Robertson goal just before the half and then waited until the second overtime for the game winner as Darwin Jones finished a cross from Josh Heard. Jones became the sixth different Husky to record a game-winning goal in the six Husky victories.
Stanford is also off to a strong start and will present a difficult challenge for UW in the conference opener. The Cardinal is coming off a road win at UC Santa Barbara where freshman Jordan Morris scored twice and was named Pac-12 Player of the Week. Overall, Stanford has won five straight, four of which have come by a single goal. Last year, Washington swept the Cardinal in a pair of tightly contested, physically played games.
Sunday’s matchup with the Golden Bears will be a national showcase game with the two teams’ lofty rankings. The Golden Bears shot up the rankings early on with wins over then-No. 2 Maryland and No. 3 Georgetown in the opening weekend. Cal has scored 14 goals, while allowing just four for the season and is led by Steve Birnbaum who is tied for the conference lead with five goals. A year ago, the Dawgs played a pair of double-overtime games against Cal, winning on a Patrick Pacheco golden goal in Seattle and earning 1-1 draw in Berkeley.
Following the big weekend in the Bay Area, the Dawgs are scheduled to come home and face Seattle U. on Tuesday at 7 p.m., as the Redhawks play a night game for the first time. Washington resumes Pac-12 play next Monday, Oct. 14, when Oregon State comes to the Husky Soccer Stadium.