Huskies Anxious to Redeem Themselves on the Pitch
Oct. 6, 2006
by Joshua Mayers
SEATTLE -- Despite losing its first two games of the year last weekend, the No. 9 Washington men's soccer team is confident and anxious to return to the field.
'You have to take setbacks to take a step forward,' coach Dean Wurzberger said. 'I'm convinced, after this weekend, our guys will realize that we're still the best team [in the Pac-10].'
'We've been doing more shooting and encouraging more shots. The guys love it. They love to shoot on goal.'
UW Head Coach Dean Wurzberger
The Huskies (8-2-0 overall, 1-2-0 Pac-10) resume Pac-10 play with two conference games at Husky Soccer Field this weekend. On Friday, Washington will host Stanford (3-4-3, 1-0-1) at 7 p.m., and two days later the UW will play Cal (6-3-1, 1-1-0) at 1 p.m.
In an effort to overcome their only goalless game of the year against San Diego State, Wurzberger has had his team practice taking more on taking shots. Regardless, the 15-year coach insists he is not concerned about the nation's ninth-ranked offense.
'Before that weekend we scored more [goals], at a higher rate, than we'd ever had,' Wurzberger said. 'So is that all in there? Of course it is. But we've been doing more shooting and encouraging more shots. The guys love it. They love to shoot on goal.'
Hoping to continue their four-game home winning streak, sophomore Raphael Cox credits the team's positive attitude to his coach's encouragement.
'[Coach] lets us know that we'll be all right,' the left midfielder said. 'We lost a couple of games, but I think we're still one of the best teams in the league.'
While the home success this season has looked almost effortless - outscoring opponents 13-1 - Wurzberger admits that the team must learn to win on the road.
'Of all those great wins we had, we played only one team on the road,' he said. 'It's a different deal playing at a home opponent in the Pac-10 and doing two cities in one weekend, so we'll grow from that.'
Both visiting teams this weekend have not played a game in almost two weeks, due to a game cancellation; however, the Huskies are the team that could use some extra rest.
Both UW captains, senior Ty Harden and junior Kevin Forrest, have sat out of practice sessions this week to recover from injuries. Harden, an all-conference defender, is currently recovering from a stress fracture in his right foot and Forrest - the nation's No. 6 leading scorer - is in rehab for an MCL sprain in his right knee.
'Injuries have started to crop up,' Wurzberger said. 'Ty's out - but he should be OK to play - and Kevin with the knee. So we have to adjust, we have to tactically change our team when one of our forwards is out.'
If Forrest, a likely game-time decision, is unable to play, Wurzberger may employ a new one-forward formation. Against San Diego State, Wurzberger moved midfielder George John to forward alongside Ely Allen, but later acknowledged it 'didn't look right.'
Washington is 20-13-1 all-time against Stanford. Last year's two-game sweep increased the Huskies' unbeaten streak to six over the Cardinal. Against Cal, UW owns a 20-10-5 all-time record. The teams have split their games the last two seasons.
After a disappointing weekend, the Huskies dropped to ninth in the country and rank only fifth in the Pac-10. One might expect the Huskies to be disheartened at last weekend's defeats, but Cox insists that isn't the case.