Men's Soccer Ranked in Preseason Top 15
Aug. 15, 2000
Seattle - The Washington men's soccer team is ranked No. 12 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) / Adidas preseason poll. Defending national champion Indiana owns the top spot while Santa Clara, UCLA, Connecticut and Furman round out the top five.
The Huskies, who advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season before falling to eventual champion Indiana, finished last season ranked 12th in the same poll.
The Washington men's soccer team, coming off back-to-back Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships, enters new territory this season. The Huskies have broken away from the MPSF and will compete in the Pacific-10 Conference in a home-and-away series this year against California, Oregon State, Stanford and UCLA.
Phase Two of Husky Soccer Field is also complete with the addition of lights, bringing nighttime soccer on grass to Washington for the first time ever.
The Huskies open the 2000 season with four straight road games, beginning with the Diadora Challenge in Omaha, Neb. Washington faces No. 21 Creighton in its opener Sept. 1 and will play No. 13 Southwest Missouri State Sept. 3.
The home slate begins with the NIKE Northwest Soccer Challenge. The Huskies meet UC-Irvine in their first game Sept. 14, followed by a match against second-ranked Santa Clara Sept. 16 at Husky Soccer Stadium.
The Huskies play a pair of exhibition games, Aug. 21 at Seattle Pacific and Aug. 26 against Seattle University at Husky Soccer Stadium. The Seattle U. game time has changed to 2:30 p.m., from its originally scheduled 7 p.m. start. The exhibition will follow the Husky women's home opener at 12 noon against Eastern Washington.
Washington, led by ninth-year coach Dean Wurzberger, returns 13 letterwinners, including nine starters from the squad that began last season with a record of 5-4-2 and finished on a 10-1 tear.
The Husky men's team begins practice Wed., Aug. 16.
NSCAA/adidas Men's NCAA Division I National Ranking
The Huskies, who are coming off back-to-back Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships, will be entering new territory this season. Washington has broken away from the MPSF and will compete in the Pac-10 Conference in a home-and-away series this year against Cal, Oregon State, Stanford and UCLA. Also, Phase Two of Husky Soccer Field is complete with the addition of lights, bringing nighttime soccer on grass to Washington for the first time ever.
Head coach Dean Wurzberger has managed to keep the Huskies among the elite programs in the nation despite losing 11 players in the past three years who have gone on to professional playing careers. He also has done it with an increasing number of Washington natives, with 20 of this year's 26 squad members hailing from the Evergreen State.
Despite the loss of three full-time starters--All-American Wes Hart, Rees Bettinger, eighth all-time in UW goals, and first-team all-MPSF defender Morgan McCoy--18 players return from a 1999 season in which Washington won 10 of its 11 final games and bowed out of the NCAA tournament in the second round to eventual national champion, Indiana. Expectations remain high for the Husky program.
"Our large number of returnees indicates a team with experience and confidence, especially after turning our season around last year," Wurzberger noted of the 1999 squad which began 5-4-2 and finished on a 10-1 tear. "That was a tremendous accomplishment as we head into this season. We've reached a confidence that we know what we're capable of doing. This team has talent and the desire to achieve."
Four seniors and six juniors, seven of whom started at least half of last year's games, will provide ample experience and leadership for the 16 underclassmen and should dominate the starting lineup. But a squad deep with talent means starting positions will not come easily.
"Competition for starting spots will be at its highest in years," Wurzberger predicted. "There should be a group pushing for starting time the entire year, and we're going to get high quality energy and effort out of that. Picking the top 11 players will be one of our toughest challenges."
Seniors Kai Carroll, Mike Casale, Mark Hogenhout and Kris Hollingshead combined for 48 starts last year, and Carroll led the team in goals (seven) and points (24) playing forward and midfield. Casale started all 21 games he played as a defender and midfielder. Hollingshead and Hogenhout started six and seven matches, respectively. All four are from the Pacific Northwest, with Carroll the only non-Washington native in the group.
"All four seniors will play major roles in our success this year," Wurzberger said. "I'm expecting Mike to be a strong leader for us both on and off the field as well."
Wurzberger's teams are known for their solid defense, and this year should be no different. Three-fourths of the 1999 defender positions are back, with the exception of McCoy. Juniors Bryn Ritchie and Billy Sleeth each started at least 20 games on the back line as sophomores, with Ritchie adding three goals and three assists to his stalwart defensive performances. Sleeth was one of three Huskies, including midfielders Zach Kingsley and Benjamin Somoza, to compete in the 2000 Sports Festival. Zac Tallman started all but one game as a rookie last year, and Casale split time as defender and midfielder.
"We are extremely solid in the back," Wurzberger divulged. "Our starting back line, with height and power, will be comparable to any in the nation. I feel good about our defense, and you have to start there."
The Huskies are somewhat young and inexperienced in the goalkeeper position but do return part-time starter Chad Olsen from a year ago. The sophomore started nine of the first 10 matches of 1999 and began one other, leading the team with a 0.89 goals against average and four shutouts in 1,116 minutes. Sophomore Colin Hanke and freshman Daniel Waltman could push for playing time.
"Our goalkeeping is somewhat of a question because we are so young," Wurzberger admitted. "But if Chad comes back a step ahead of where he was last year, he'll be in great shape to be the solid goalkeeper we need."
The UW midfield also is in good hands, or feet if you will, with Sports Festival participants Kingsley and Somoza in the mix, along with the entire senior class when Casale isn't defending. Somoza, who led the 1999 squad in assists with eight, was second in overall points (16) and earned second-team all-MPSF honors, and Carroll were the leading point-getters a year ago, and Hogenhout added seven by way of two goals and three assists. Freshmen Russell Cahill and Ricky Rea should add support.
"Our midfield is full of players with skill, power and work rate," Wurzberger said, "and our senior class will provide a big influence there."
Dynamic speed describes the Husky attack force this season. Juniors Greg Foisie and Jake Sagare return with seven goals and six assists between them in 28 combined starts from a year ago. Sophomore Dayo Oyetuga is back after an injury-shortened season in which he started four of the first nine games of the year. Freshmen Bobby McAlister and Jimmy Stark join the group with impressive high school and club credentials.
"Up front we're got explosive speed with Sagare, Foisie and a rapidly developing supporting cast including Oyetuga," Wurzberger commented. "I think our team speed is going to be excellent. We've got a lot of people who have the potential to get us goals. We should be dangerous on restarts with our height coming forward, and we should get a lot of goals from the midfield like we did last year."
Washington's strength of schedule will be among its tougher in history with the formation of Pac-10 play and four strong out-of-region opponents in Akron, Creighton, Rhode Island and Southwest Missouri State. Seven of UW's 14 opponents, including nine of 18 matches, will be against teams that made the NCAA tournament last year. Postseason participants Santa Clara, Rhode Island, Stanford and UCLA will grace Husky Soccer Field this year.
Four of the Huskies' nine home matches will be played under the lights, including the NIKE Northwest Soccer Challenge and the NIKE Husky Classic, offering additional excitement and atmosphere for the fans.
"The addition of lights at our stadium is a huge development," Wurzberger exclaimed. "We're hoping for a real positive impact on our game environment in terms of the crowd involvement and a competitive home-field advantage.
"We've got every reason to believe we will have a season of equal quality to last year, if not better. The questions are there as they are every year, such as what kind of goalkeeping we'll get and what freshmen out of a very talented class will be ready to make an immediate impact.
"But our strong defense, aggressive midfield and breakaway speed up front is a combination that gives us a very optimistic outlook for the fall," Wurzberger declared. "The team is a very cohesive unit. They've gone through that experience of having disappointment and turning it around, so I think the attitude of the team is going to be fantastic."
2000 SQUAD BREAKDOWN