SEATTLE – Washington men’s soccer kicks off the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at 5 p.m. when cross-town rival Seattle U. comes to the Husky Soccer Stadium. The second-seeded Dawgs coming off a first-round bye host the unseeded Redhawks who eliminated Creighton the first round.
The derby matchup will also pit the Pac-12 Champion against the WAC Champion. The Dawgs clinched the Pac-12 crown by winning its last three games and leapfrogging UCLA and California in the conference standings. Seattle U. went undefeated through its conference season and won the WAC conference tournament to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Dawgs defeated Seattle U. early this season, 2-0, at the Redhawks’ Championship Field. Josh Heard scored two second-half goals in that matchup to pace the Huskies. It was an odd game with Washington playing its third game in five days and Seattle U. about to enter its conference season. As a result, both teams rested players at times. Sunday’s matchup will not be of this sort with the winner advancing and the loser heading home for the winter.
Washington is undefeated at home this season with a record of 8-0-2. The Dawgs will have home-field advantage all the way to the College Cup should they continue to advance. A sellout is expected to the 1,9000-seat Husky Soccer Stadium, but standing room only tickets will also be available that could push the crowd well over that number. The unofficial record at the Husky Soccer Stadium is 3,403 when the Husky women topped UCLA, 1-0, on Oct. 22, 2000.
The Dawgs are ranked No. 2 in the country entering the tournament. Washington has the fifth-ranked scoring offense in the nation at 2.10 goals per games and the 17th-ranked scoring defense with a goals allowed average of 0.70. The Dawgs used a balanced attack with 12 different goal scorers, including team leaders Darwin Jones, Taylor Peay and Cristian Roldan with six goals apiece. In addition, Mason Robertson has come on of late, scoring the game-winning goal in each of the past three games.
The backline of Peay, Michael Harris, Justin Schmidt and Andy Thoma has been as solid as any unit in the country. The Dawgs have allowed just 14 goals all season, while also getting into the attack. Harris led the Pac-12 with nine assists with the defensive four accounting for 11 goals and 17 assists.
Seatte U. is led by Miguel Gomez who scored both goals in Seattle U.’s first-round victory over Creighton. The WAC Offensive Player of the Year now has 15 goals on the season. The Redhawks are 0-4-1 against the Dawgs since their return to Division I. Washington holds the all-time advantage with a 39-5-5 record.
Washington is playing in the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season under Jamie Clark. The Dawgs defeated Air Force in the first round last year, before falling at Creighton as the Blue Jays went on to advance to the College Cup. Overall, Washington is 9-18-2 in the NCAA Tournament and 1-8-1 in the second round. The Dawgs only trip to the Sweet 16 in program history came in 2003, something the Huskies would accomplish with a win on Sunday.
The winner of Sundays’ contest between the Dawgs and Redhawks will face the winner of 15th-seeded Cal-State Northridge and Stanford. If Washington were to win, they would host the third round game on Sunday, Dec. 1 at 5 p.m.