Huskies Earn NCAA Bid, Host Portland In First Round Friday

Nov. 19, 2007

SEATTLE - Washington earned an at-large berth to the 2007 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship and will host Northwest rival Portland on Friday, Nov. 23, at Husky Soccer Field with a time yet to be determined.

The winner of Friday's match will advance to play at defending NCAA champion UC Santa Barbara (12-3-4) in the second round, Wed., Nov. 28.

The Huskies compiled a regular season record of 8-7-4 and finished fifth in the Pac-10 with a 3-4-3 conference mark. The NCAA bid is the 12th during the 16-year tenure of head coach Dean Wurzberger, and 19th in program history. Washington will make its second-straight trip to the postseason after advancing as far as the second round last year. UW has advanced to the NCAA Tournament 12 times in the last 14 seasons. Washington's best performance was a school-record trip to the Sweet 16 in 2003.

'We anticipated being picked, we were hopeful for a home game and it all came together,' Wurzberger said following the announcement of the 48-team NCAA field. 'We are excited about playing Portland, they are a common play-off opponent for us. There's a new energy and spirit amongst the team that I felt at practice today and we're going to ride that into the postseason.'

The Huskies turned in a successful regular season despite losing two starters during the season due to injury with sophomore goalkeeper Rylan Hawkins going down with a facial injury in UW's game with New Mexico (Sept. 14) and 2006 Pac-10 Player of the Year Kevin Forrest suffering a season and career-ending foot injury in mid-October.

'I'm really proud of this team when you look at the setbacks that we've had injury wise,' Wurzberger said. 'Every time they were about to count us out we won a big game. I have to really credit my coaching staff. The thought never really occurred to them that we didn't have a chance this year. To get into the postseason with eight wins is a quite an accomplishment, you must have had some special eight wins along the way which was the case. Now we have a chance to carry on the legacy of playing in the postseason for this program.'

Portland finished the 2007 regular season with a record of 10-5-5 and placed third in the West Coast Conference with a 6-2-4 league mark. It's the first postseason appearance for the Pilots since 2004.

Washington and Portland are not only long-time rivals, there are long-time postseason rivals as well. The Huskies and Pilots have met seven times in postseason play dating back to 1989 including three times in UW's last four tournament appearances. These teams met as recently as 2004, with Portland coming away with a 5-3 victory at Husky Soccer Field. The Huskies trail the all-time series with Portland in the NCAA Tournament, 3-4.

Washington and Portland met earlier this season in Seattle, with the Huskies coming away with a 1-0 victory on Sept. 18. The win was the 500th in the history of the UW men's soccer program. Junior midfielder Raphael Cox scored the game's only goal in the 51st minute. The Huskies lead the all-time series with Portland 24-16-3.

Ticket prices for Friday's match are $7 for adults, $5 for children, seniors and students with group tickets available for $4. Tickets are available online at GoHuskies.com or by calling the Husky Ticket Office at 206-543-2200.

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