Huskies Seek to Make Early Statement in Soccer Tourney

Aug. 28, 2003

SEATTLE - When the Washington women's soccer team takes the field this Friday against 18th -ranked Maryland there will be a little extra intensity on the part of the Huskies. Washington is trying to rebound from a disappointing 2002 campaign, a year that saw the Huskies narrowly miss the NCAA tournament.

This weekend will be the perfect proving ground for the refocused Huskies who will get to face both Maryland and top-ranked North Carolina in the Arena Sports Pac-10 / ACC Challenge. Washington State will make the trip to Seattle as the other Pac-10 representative

'It is a great showcase event this weekend and with football being out of town and being on TV on Saturday, it is a fun opportunity for people to get out and see something else,' Husky coach Lesle Gallimore said of this weekend's tournament.

This weekend will be a great opportunity for the Pac-10 to make a statement right out of the gate.

'I have a ton of respect for Washington State and where their program is right now,' Gallimore said. 'I know they will provide good competition for these ACC schools. It is a great opportunity for our conference and both our programs, to help us out with strength of schedule for out of region games.'

With a whole summer of preparation behind them, teams in all fall sports are ready to get off the practice field in into the some live game action.

'Coach Gilbertson said the same thing about football, 'we are ready to play, and we wish the game was right now.' It will be nice to start kicking somebody other than ourselves,' Gallimore explained. 'You have to start keeping practices short and sweet because they start to drop off after awhile.'

For the Huskies to be successful this year they are going to have to get back to being a strong team defensively. Over the years the Huskies have built a reputation as a defensive power, something that they got away from last season.

'I just think that our team in both games has to come out well defensively,' the head coach said. 'That's not to say that I don't have faith in it but that is where our biggest test is going to be. If we can defend as well as we have been training I will be as pleased as punch.'

A big key to that defense is going to be how well Hope Solo's replacements, Lisa Brookens and Kelsey Rasmussen, do manning the nets. They will certainly be tested this weekend, but coach Gallimore and their teammates have a lot of confidence in them.

'I think they are,' Gallimore said when asked if her goalkeepers are ready to step into starting roles. 'Lisa has really earned the respect of our team and I think even in the preseason Kelsey Rasmussen has earned the respect of the players. All the players know that both of these keepers aren't as experienced as Hope and don't have as many games under their belts. But, if it is a team effort we are not going to have to rely on one player.'

Last year the Huskies just missed out on the playoffs and that NCAA snub showed up in this year's Pac-10 preseason rankings that have the Huskies picked to finish sixth. However, instead of feeling sorry for themselves, the Huskies are coming out ready to prove people wrong.

'I think our kids think about it a little, they don't talk about it much. I think it shows more in how hard they are training and how hard they are working,' remarked Gallimore. 'It is one of those things, maybe it is deserved. Maybe that is where we deserve to be after our performance last year, but in our hearts we know we are better and it is motivation to show we are better.'

The Huskies have a lot to prove this year if they are going to be successful and this weekend is the perfect opportunity to make a statement. Washington has been a perennial power in the Pac-10 and they are determined to spend all year reclaiming their spot among the conference leaders.

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