November 7, 2007
Hey Husky fans! It has now been over two months since my last journal entry and I want to apologize to all the loyal readers for my lack of consistency. Fortunately I have had all this time to gather my thoughts and as a result this entry will be even more exceptional than usual.
I left you off just a week into preseason and so we have a lot of catching up to do! But before I begin sharing my personal thoughts I will summarize the season the most efficient way possible: bullet points. (I learned this in the UW business school.)
Preseason training: Finished as planned and we entered into our first weekend with two weeks of intense training and an exhibition game under our belt.
Nike Portland Invitational: The Huskies were upset in the first game with a 0-0 tie to New Hampshire. Our dynamic attack was not in sync and unfortunately played against a team that stacked 11 behind the ball as often as possible. We entered the Sunday contest in need of a win and responded well to the pressure by beating Cal State Bakersfield 5-1 and taking home the tournament trophy.
Gonzaga Game: We traveled to Spokane to play a team that had never beaten us in the history of our program. We went up 1-0 in the first 5 minutes but could not hold on and received our first ever loss to Gonzaga 2-1. We played very poorly as a team and I remembered the quote, "Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard."
New Mexico Tournament: We entered this prestigious tournament with 3 other top 25 teams including #3 SMU, last year's national champion Santa Barbara and the hosts New Mexico. After coming off a devastating upset and an awful performance we had everything to prove. This tournament also marked a 10 day stretch with five games. The first game we pulled off a sweet win in front of a huge road crowd with a 1-0 victory over New Mexico. Sadly we lost our keeper Rylan Hawkins for the season when a New Mexico forward kicked him in the face. Our backup keeper Stephen Fung came in for his first ever minutes and did a great job ignoring the crowd and preserving the lead for the win. On Sunday we showed we're as good as any team in the nation by soundly beating #3 SMU 2-0.
Northwest Rivalry: We couldn't let down after the New Mexico tournament as we had a Tuesday game against our Northwest Rival University of Portland. Despite having a better record each of the last three years we hadn't managed to beat them since 2003 (my freshmen year). We were tired from the weekend but still managed to grind out a 1-0 win against an aggressive, physical Portland team. Our record now stood at 4-1-1 and we had showed the ability to grind out wins and win with style.
Husky Fever Classic: Our team provided another head-scratcher on Friday that was reminiscent of the Gonzaga game as we managed a 4-1 loss to underdog University of Denver. It was an upsetting loss because, like Gonzaga, it was a mental lapse and a lack of energy that beat us, we didn't go down fighting. We rebounded on Sunday though with an exciting overtime win over undefeated Furman.
Creighton rematch: After beating Creighton 3-0 in the playoffs last season, Creighton played like they had a point to prove. We traveled to Nebraska to play in their $13 million stadium. Regrettably we lost the game 2-1 in overtime and had another weak performance where we never really generated chances or played the way we had just two weeks ago.
Pac-10 Opening Weekend: After our bummer loss to Creighton we were re-energized in training preparing to take the Pac-10 by storm. Our opening game was down at Cal where we came out flying in the first half. We gave up an early goal but tied it 1-1 and were extremely unlucky not to be ahead by at least one if not more. For some reason we let down again in the second half and gave up another early goal. This time we didn't rebound or play with the flare we had in the first half and we lost the game 2-1. We then headed to Stanford where we had the better of the chances but could only manage a 0-0 tie.
Pac-10 Home Opener: The atmosphere at this game is what Husky soccer is all about: A misty night game under the lights, the band playing "Bow down to Washington" and packed stands. But despite all this we suffered another heartbreaking overtime loss.
SDSU and UCLA: With our margin of error slipping away with each loss, this weekend was crucial to get some good results and stay in the running for the playoffs. Our first game was against Pac-10 leader SDSU and we came out with an important 3-1 win off of an Ely Allen hat trick. The UCLA game on Sunday was a thriller, where both teams played great soccer, but we came out on the losing end when a last minute UCLA goal beat us 3-2. It was unlucky because the game could have gone either way, but the loss wasn't disheartening like previous ones because the team fought hard all game and performed to their potential.
Forest Fire: Our game down in San Diego was cancelled due to the fires, so the team flew down for just one game at UCLA on Sunday. Despite being out shot we pulled off a 1-0 win which is tough to do at UCLA's home field.
4 GAMES LEFT: We now have four games remaining and a 7-6-2 record. Last year we had 12 wins and hosted in the first round of playoffs. With a strong 5-0 finish and 11 wins we will certainly get in. But if we only win 3 of the next 4 it gets tricky, 10-win teams seem to have trouble getting in. So now the team needs to approach this last stretch as a 4-game season and get positive results.
So now you have a feel for how our season has gone, with its ups and downs, and where we stand now with these crucial last games. In the next entry I am going to share more of my personal experience this season.