Slowed by the loss of injured senior starters Stine Schoening, Annie Sittauer and striker Hillary Zevenbergen, the 2-4 Huskies host Seattle University Friday at 7 p.m. “There’s a lot to build on,” coach Lesle Gallimore says.
By Monica Lee
In the wake of multiple injuries and a rough start to the season, coach Lesle Gallimore celebrated two huge milestones with the Dawgs.
After 90 minutes of regulation and nearly two golden-goal overtime periods in Honolulu on Aug, 25, Jaclyn Softli’s head connected with a cross from Amanda Perez for the Huskies’ first win of the season.
Softli’s last-minute goal broke a scoreless tie against UNC-Greensboro at the No Ka Oi Tournament hosted by University of Hawaii -- and tallied career win No. 200 for Gallimore.
This season is Gallimore’s 20th year leading the Huskies. It’s the longest tenure in the Pac-12.
But Washington has started the season with a disappointing 2-4-0 record.
The Huskies look to improve that with their first home win Friday against Seattle University. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. The match will be streamed live on the Pac-12.com.
Although the Huskies weren’t expecting to open the season this way, Gallimore is confident in the improvement she’s seen.
“We took a lot of injuries and didn’t perform the way I think we’re capable of performing,” said Gallimore, whose career record at UW is 201-162-34.
“With that said, I think there’s a lot to build on.”
Washington’s roster is riddled with pain. Three starting seniors are out: co-captain Stine Schoening, outside back Annie Sittauer and striker Hillary Zevenbergen.
Their absence has been a major setback.
The silver lining: The depth of the roster is proving to be an asset for the Dawgs.
“There are a lot of younger players that have stepped up in the face of the injuries,” Gallimore said. “It’s taken them a little time to get their feet wet and their confidence underneath them, but that’s what was the most encouraging about last weekend.”
The Huskies earned their second win defeating Central Michigan at the Nike Portland Invitational hosted by University of Portland. Freshman Becca Schoales netted the only two goals in the game, while redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Megan Kufeld earned her second shutout.
And attacking midfielder Isabel Farrell continued to show signs of being a key to UW scoring more goals.
“Isabel Farrell has been probably, as a young player in her second year, one of our most consistent players,” Gallimore said. “She’s created a lot for us. She’s played very solidly on both sides of the ball so we’ve been impressed with her improvement from year one to year two.”
Farrell, who has played with the U.S. youth national teams since she was 14, is eager to keep improving into her sophomore season.
“I’m hoping to keep building as a player and learning,” Farrell said. “I really, really hope to help the team a lot this year. Get some assists and hopefully a goal.
“I want to just score.”
Joining her in the attack is her teammate on the Seattle Sounders women’s and U.S. U-20 squads Lindsay Elston. Kufeld is also a member of both teams. Sittauer and senior forward Allie Beahan also play for the Sounders Women.
Elston, a All-Pac-12 honorable mention and a NSCAA All-Pacific-Region second-team selection in 2012, led the Huskies in goals and assists last season as a midfielder. She looks to continue scoring for the Dawgs with her transition to forward this season.
“I think I can be someone to help us get goals and just create opportunities,” Elston said.
“My role is more of a forward now so I need to be the one that puts those pieces together for the team.”
Gallimore likes this change for Elston.
“It frees her up to attack, which is what she likes to do,” Gallimore says. “She’s still got a defensive role, but it’s drastically reduced playing as a forward. So hopefully that gives her more of the green light to get to net.”
As a captain and new forward, Elston and freshman Schoales are helping each other get comfortable.
“It’s funny because I’m not usually a forward and I’m playing with her,” the senior said. “She’s played [forward] her whole life so I’m like, ‘You need to talk to me.’ But also as a leader I’m like, ‘Go over here,’ and telling her what to do.
“It’s two ways, but definitely as a leader I can also help [her] get the feel for things.”
Co-captain Schoening hasn’t disappeared because of her injury. She’s keeping a role in rallying the Huskies from their slow start to the season.
“I still have a voice!” she joked. “I may not have a leg, but I got a voice I can still use so that’s my main contribution.
“I try to keep people’s attitudes right and keep the team morale up.”
When she returns to the field she has big plans for herself.
“I have more of a vocal leadership on this squad so just kind of bring that back to game days,” she said.
“And I would love to get a goal, obviously.”
Still goalless at home, the team would love to score too.
“We’ve had our shares of ups and downs,” Elston said, “but I think we’re headed in a really good direction right now.
“Our team is definitely on a different foot right now.”