Confident Huskies Looking To Get Back To NCAA's
Nov. 6, 2011
By: Danny Roth
SEATTLE - Washington's men's soccer team is a confident group, and for good reason. The Huskies are 11-4-2 overall and 6-3 in conference play. They have won six of their last seven games- with the only loss during that stretch coming on the road against a highly ranked UCLA team- and look to end the regular season on a high note Friday against Oregon State.
A win in their final game would bolster the team's resume and help UW's chances of having their name called during the DI Men's Soccer Tournament selection show on November 14. Being part of the field of 48 is a huge goal for the Huskies who narrowly missed out on the tournament again last season.
"We thought we deserved to make it in last year after a good season," said senior forward Brent Richards, "not making the tournament for the third straight year really hurt."
But the pain of failing to achieve their goal last year only fueled their fire and pushed them harder this year. "The disappointment of last year did linger in the sense that it provided added motivation for how hard we need to work day in and day out to obtain this goal," said junior midfielder Dylan Tucker-Gangnes.
Richards and Tucker-Gangnes, who are two of the team's co-captains along with senior defender Jamie Finch, share the sentiment that UW is good enough to make the tournament this year. But they need a strong finish to the season to reach their goal.
The team is focused on the task at hand. It's not hard to see that this showdown against Oregon State has big implications for their tournament hopes and they are preparing to avoid a repeat performance of the previous meeting between these two teams. The Huskies started their Pac-12 conference schedule with a disappointing 2-1 loss in Corvallis and now the two teams meet again with a lot on the line, a fact that isn't lost on the Huskies.
"I'm excited to get the chance to get some revenge on them," Finch said, "and they are probably equally excited to try to play spoilers for their Northwest rivals." He continued saying that the team is "(getting) geared up for what may be the biggest game any of us have played at UW."
The Huskies will have some extra time to get healthy and prepare for Oregon State due to their bye this weekend. "We are able to have a light week and get guys recovered and re-energized," sophomore goalkeeper Spencer Richey pointed out. "It's a good time for us to work on things we need to improve on for OSU and hopefully for the tournament."
"We have been playing our best soccer recently," senior midfielder Nick James added. He thinks that the Huskies can carry their momentum and string of excellent play into next weekend's game saying, "hopefully our last game of the regular season is our best game."
A confident team like the Huskies expects to win every time they take the field and refuses to accept any other result. This attitude speaks to the leadership and preparation of this group and to their will to make up for past disappointments. There is no guarantee that the Huskies will make the tournament with a win, nor is it a certainty that they'll miss the tournament with a loss, but all the team can do now is play as if it were an elimination game in order to prove to everyone that they deserve to make the tournament. That's how the team has felt for a while now.
"The last two weeks have basically been the start of the playoffs for us because the margin of error is so slim," Tucker-Gangnes said. "I prepare for all games with the mindset that losing is unacceptable but the fact that this is a must (win) game and has implications for a tournament spot definitely has narrowed my focus."
The Husky soccer team sees this game as an opportunity to show that they're the real deal.
"We know we should be playing in the tournament and (we're) confident in our abilities against any team in the country," said senior midfielder Casey McCool, "so it would mean a lot to finally get back in and have the chance to go show people how we can play on a big stage." ss And with the amount of talent, experience and leadership on this team, it is no wonder where this confident mentality comes from. The Huskies are out to prove to the country why they deserve to be in the tournament and they won't let anything get in their way.