Northwest Rivals Clash In NCAA First Round Friday
Nov. 17, 2004
Washington's 'second season' begins this week as the Huskies entertain Northwest nemesis Portland (11-7-2) in the first round of the 2004 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship, Friday, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. at Husky Soccer Field. Washington, which finished the regular season tied for second in the Pac-10 with a league record of 4-3-1 and an overall record of 11-6-2, earned one of 25 at-large berths to the 48-team NCAA Field. The Huskies are making their ninth postseason appearance in the last 10 seasons, and 16th overall. The winner of Friday's match advances to play No. 13 seed New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 23, at 7 p.m. MST (6 p.m. PST).
Prices for tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for seniors/children and $3 for groups (25 or more). Tickets can be purchased at www.gohuskies.com or by calling 206-543-2200.
NCAA Tournament Format:
The NCAA men's soccer tournament is a single-elimination play-off that features a 48-team field. Twenty-three teams received automatic bids to the tournament, while 25 earned a spot via an at-large selection. The 16 seeded teams received first round byes, while the others will duke it out in first-round matches played at campus sites, Friday, Nov. 19 or Saturday, Nov. 20. All matches through the quarterfinals will be played at campus sites, with the 2004 NCAA Men's College Cup to take place Dec. 10 (semifinals) and Dec. 12 (finals) at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Huskies In The Postseason:
Washington is making a postseason appearance for the second-straight year, the ninth in the last 10 seasons and 16th overall. The Huskies have an all-time record of 6-16 in tournament play, advancing as far as the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2003. Until last season, UW had not won a second-round match in the postseason. Last year UW received a first-round bye before hosting Portland in the second round and defeating the Pilots 1-0. Making school history, 10th-seeded Washington boarded a plane for Saint Louis and nearly pulled an upset over the seventh-seeded Billikens, losing a heartbreaker in overtime, 2-1. Washington has hosted four of its last five NCAA matches, hosting first and second round games in 2000, a first round game in 2001 and a second-round match-up last year. In addition to 2003, the Huskies have played through to the second round six times. Washington made seven-straight trips to the tournament from 1995-2001.
Huskies, Pilots Clash Again:
Familiar postseason foes, Washington and Portland have met six previous times in the NCAA Tournament, in which both sides have won three matches and lost three. This season marks the third straight that Washington would face Portland in its first match of the postseason. Washington's first opponent in 2001 and 2003 was Portland, both coming in the second round after UW received first-round byes. Portland was the victor in 2001 by the score of 1-0, while UW turned around to eliminate the Pilots in 2003, 1-0. This Northwest postseason rivalry dates back to 1989, with UW earning its wins in 1992, 1999 and 2003. This year Portland won the team's annual regular season meeting, 2-1, in Portland, Sept. 15, a match in which UW outshot the Pilots 19-12. Washington leads the all-time series 23-13-3 overall and 10-5-2 in Seattle.
Washington has 11 players on its roster with previous postseason experience, led by its four seniors Casey Armstrong, Joe Birklid, C.J. Klaas and Brett Wiesner. Both Armstrong and Wiesner played in 2001 and 2003 NCAA matches. Birklid and Klaas only played in 2001. Both were on the roster in 2003, but Birklid did not receive playing time and Klaas was playing for the U-20 U.S. National Team in the FIFA World Youth Championships. Juniors Mike Chabala, Evan Cummings, Leo Totev and Jeff Hoover, and freshmen Will Flanagan, Kevin Forrest and Ty Harden all played in the Huskies' 2003 postseason matches. Junior Chris Eylander was on the 2003 team but did not receive playing time. From the coaching standpoint, head coach Dean Wurzberger has led the Huskies to the NCAA Tournament nine times in 12 seasons.
Washington is in a place it hasn't been all year - the victim of three straight losses...UW lost its grasp on a Pac-10 title, finishing the regular season with losses to then-No. 18 Cal (1-0 OT), then-No. 2 UCLA (2-1) and Oregon State (3-2 OT)...The last time UW lost three straight was 2002...The Huskies gave up a season-high three goals to the Beavers in their regular season finale...prior to the losing streak, UW had shutout its opponents in five of the last seven matches...Washington finished the season leading the Pac-10 in shots (280) and saves (77)...junior goalkeeper Chris Eylander was responsible for all 77 saves...the first-year starter also leads the conference in shutouts (10) and saves per game (4.05)...Eylander's eight saves versus Creighton were a Pac-10 high...UW is one of three Pac-10 teams to advance to the NCAA Tournament...UCLA received the automatic berth by winning its third-straight conference title...Cal, which finished the conference season tied with Washington in second place, is a first-round host on Friday as well...Cal faces Santa Clara, while UCLA awaits the winner of the Cal State Northridge versus Loyola Marmount match...the Huskies are winless when playing past regulation...UW has recorded two draws and three losses in overtime...the Huskies are perfect in penalty kick attempts, going 3-for-3...junior midfielder Mike Chabala has scored all three of his goals this year on penalty kicks...the Washington defense has allowed just three goals in the first half all year...the Huskies have scored first in all 11 wins...UW is 11-2-1 overall when scoring first...UW has shut out its opponents in 10 of 11 wins...sophomore forward Kevin Forrest is Washington's leading scorer with seven goals...Chabala, senior midfielder C.J. Klaas and forward Casey Armstrong all lead the squad with five assists each.
The Pilots finished the regular season 11-7-2 overall and 6-5-1 in the Big West Conference. Portland has won two of its last three matches heading into postseason play, including a win over then-No. 15 Santa Clara (2-1) Nov. 7. Alejandro Salazar leads the team with five goals and eight assists. Goalkeeper Luis Robles has a 1.06 goals against average and seven shutouts. Portland has outscored its opponents 29-22. The Pilots have just about a break-even record on the road, posting a 3-3-2 mark away from Merlo Field. Portland is 2-1 on neutral sites.
Klaas Named A Semifinalist For M.A.C. Hermann Trophy:
For the second straight season, senior midfielder C.J. Klaas has been named one of 15 semifinalists for the Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy, the official National Soccer Coaches Assocation of America Player of the Year award for Division I competition. Klaas was one of 25 players named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List prior to the start of the season. The winner will be announced at a press conference in St. Louis, Mo., on Jan. 7, 2005. Already a highly decorated athlete for the Huskies, Klaas became the first Washington player to ever earn NSCAA first-team All-America acclaim last year. A preseason All-American this season, he is also vying to become the first three-time first-team All-Pac-10 player in school history. Klaas has started 18 games this season, and is second on the team in goals (five) and tied for first in assists (five).
Husky Trio Earns Academic All-District Honors:
Washington's Joe Birklid, Chris Eylander and Kevin Forrest were named to the 2004 CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII Men's Soccer Team, announced Nov. 8. The Huskies led all schools with three players selected to the 11-man team. Birklid has a 3.70 GPA and is majoring in English. Eylander is an engineering major with a 3.58 GPA, while Forrest has a 3.58 GPA as well. The all-district selections advance to the national ballot. That team will be announced Nov. 22.
Wiesner Sees First Action Since Oct. 10:
Senior forward Brett Wiesner, who suffered a sprained knee versus Stanford Oct. 10, played his first match against OSU Sunday after missing the last four. Wiesner is a key component of the Husky offense, but has been plagued by injury his last two seasons. He missed the first seven matches last year with a strained hamstring injury and still went on to earn All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors. Wiesner had a career-high seven goals in 2002. He has two goals this season.
Title Hopes Fall With 2-1 UCLA Loss:
The Huskies came up short in their bid for a second Pac-10 title, falling 2-1 to the second-ranked UCLA Bruins in front of a season-high crowd of 2,520 fans at Husky Soccer Field, Nov. 5. UCLA came back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to score a pair of goals in the second half. UW frosh forward Ely Allen scored the Huskies' lone goal in the 35th minute. The Huskies outshot the Bruins 9-4 in the first half, capped by Allen's picture perfect goal. Junior Leo Totev served a cross to Allen, whose long curling shot from 25- yards out sailed into the far corner of the net. UCLA came back after halftime and dominated play, with Ahmed Khalil scoring the equalizer in the 65th minute, and Pac-10 Player of the Week Benny Feilhaber scoring the gamewinner in the 80th minute.
Huskies In The National Rankings:
Washington is ranked 15th by Soccer America, 20th by Soccer Times, and 21st by College Soccer News. UW fell from the NSCAA/adidas poll, only receiving votes and not breaking the Top-25.
Huskies Against Ranked Opponents:
Washington has faced nine ranked opponents this season, compiling a 5-3-1 record. UW's victories came against No. 5 UConn, No. 25 Creighton, No. 12 UCLA, No. 3 California and No. 17 Stanford. The three losses came to then-No. 2 St. John's, No. 17 Cal and No. 2 UCLA, with the draw coming versus then-No. 7 Stanford. The Huskies are 2-2 against Top-5 opponents.
Strong Conference Start:
The last time the Huskies went unbeaten in their first four conference matches was 2000 - the year they won the inaugural Pac-10 crown. That season UW opened Pac-10 play with wins over Oregon State, Stanford and Cal. This year UW defeated UCLA, Cal and Oregon State, while tying with Stanford in the first half of conference play.
Eylander Making Most of Starting Role:
After platooning with Danny Waltman as a freshman and serving as a back-up to Waltman last season, junior Chris Eylander finally owns the starting goalkeeping position for the Huskies in 2004. Eylander has made the most of his new role, recording 10 shutouts and allowing just 15 goals. His 0.76 goals against average ranks ninth on UW's single-season list, while his 10 shutouts rank third. Only Mark Schuur has tallied more shutouts in a single season, posting 14 shutouts in 1982 and 11 in 1981. Eylander started out the year allowing just one goal in UW's first four games, with that lone goal coming from the nation's second-ranked team in St. John's. For his early season efforts, Eylander became the first Husky this year to earn Pac-10 Player of the Week honors.
Harden Solidifies The Defense:
Sophomore Ty Harden, a second-team All-Pac-10 player as a freshman, has been a model of consistency for the Huskies being the only player besides goalie Chris Eylander to start all 19 games. A central defender, Harden has been the glue for the Husky backline which has held its opponents to 15 goals in 19 matches. UW has held its opponents scoreless 10 times. Harden got involved in UW's offensive attack versus Cal on Oct. 8, scoring his first goal of the year on a header off a corner kick.
UW's six-game road trip to open the season was its longest since opening with its first seven games on the road in 1999. That year, UW played in three tournaments before coming home to Husky Soccer Field. In 1999, Washington posted an overall record of 15-5 and finished first in the Mountain Division of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
Sharing The Wealth:
Eleven different Huskies have accounted for UW's 29 goals this season. Sophomore Kevin Forrest leads the team with seven goals, while senior C.J. Klaas has five and senior Casey Armstrong, junior Mike Chabala and freshman Ely Allen have three. Freshman Brett Hite and senior Brett Wiesner each have two. Juniors Leo Totev, Jeff Hoover and Evan Cummings each have one goal, as does sophomore Ty Harden.
Head Coach Dean Wurzberger:
In his 13th season at the helm of the Washington men's soccer program, head coach Dean Wurzberger has guided the Huskies to eight NCAA tournament berths in nine seasons. He reached the 150 win milestone for both his career and Washington overall records last year. Wurzberger's 150th career win came with a 1-0 victory over Portland, Sept. 5, 2003, while his 150th win as Husky head coach came with Washington's 3-1 win over Stanford, Oct. 31, 2003. Wurzberger has an overall head coaching mark of 172-76-30 (12 years at Washington, one year at Sacramento State). Under Wurzberger's guidance, Washington was one of only seven schools in the country to make seven consecutive NCAA tournament appearances from 1995 to 2001. His 2000 team won the inaugural Pac-10 Conference championship, following two consecutive Mountain Pacific Sports Federation titles. Wurzberger's overall record of 164-68-25 at Washington makes him the winningest head coach in Husky history. His assistant coaches are Seth Spidahl, Matthew Olson and Darren Sawatzky.
Joe Birklid Online Diary:
Senior defender Joe Birklid is chronicling the Huskies' 2004 season with an online diary at www.gohuskies.com. The diary can be accessed by clicking on the men's soccer page.
The Huskies control their own destiny. A win over Portland on Friday would send them off to No. 13 seeded New Mexico to clash with the Lobos in the second round, Tuesday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. MST. New Mexico is ranked No. 1 in this week's Soccer America poll.
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