Fresh On The Attack

Oct. 22, 2008

By Sheena Nguyen
The Daily

SEATTLE -- More than halfway into the game with neither team on the board, the Husky attack surges forward toward the opponent's goal.

Freshman Dylan Tucker-Gangnes dishes off to fellow freshman Brent Richards, who reads the pass and gets the third-man run. Richards then maneuvers the ball until he finds an opening and immediately kicks the ball past the goalkeeper to score. Washington one; San Diego State zero.

This wasn't the first time the same play had been carried out.

'We've already seen that combination come up huge twice,' Washington men's soccer coach Dean Wurzberger said.

The two freshmen forwards, along with freshman Casey McCool at midfield, are now some of the key players the team looks to when it needs to score. The three have played in all 13 games this season, and although their combined goals make up more than a third of the team total, they are still showing the potential to do even better as the season progresses.

As cohesive as they are on the field, these three players had never played together before setting foot on the Husky Soccer Field this season. They are all local products of the Northwest, but each has a different resume.

McCool hails from Bend, Ore., the farthest away of the three, but still has a history with Washington soccer.

'I knew the coaches before I came here,' McCool said.

Wurzberger coached McCool two years ago in the Olympic Development Program (ODP) and watched him progress.

'I was very impressed with his overall skill,' Wurzberger said. 'He's changed a lot physically, he's bigger ... but he's perfectly cut out for being a center midfielder.'

The center mid found his first career goal at the UW earlier this month against Stanford. Near the end of the match when both teams were still scoreless and it looked as if an overtime period was eminent, McCool took an unassisted shot to the upper right-hand corner of the net for the game-winning goal.

Although that was his first and only goal thus far, he shows the potential to do a lot more.

'He's yet to score a lot of goals for us,' Wurzberger said. ' ... but [he's] scored tons of goals as a youth player so we know that that's there,'

On the other side of the spectrum is Richards, who is tied with senior Raphael Cox for team leader in goals, with six each. Although it may seem as if he's picked up where former Husky forwards Kevin Forrest and Ely Allen -- who now play for the Seattle Sounders and L.A. Galaxy, respectively -- left off, he acknowledges that the transition has not been seamless.

'The speed of play is faster,' Richards said. 'When I played in club there were a few teams that were not very good at all but all these teams we're playing now are really good competition. So every game's huge.'

His playing partner up front, Tucker-Gangnes -- a.k.a. the `Big Man,' -- standing at 6-foot-3-inches, has made scoring for Richards much easier with four assists.

'Dylan hasn't been getting goals but he's been instrumental at being a person that occupies the defense, and as a setup man where you play it to him and he lays it off not only to Brent but to others,' Wurzberger said. 'He looks to be a threat every time the ball is in the air as well.'

With half of the Pac-10 schedule still to be played, these freshmen are making this season of Husky soccer very promising.

'Every opponent's going to be tough and they're going to bring their A-game,' Tucker-Gangnes said. 'I definitely try to be focused on every game.'

Even though they still have their ups and downs in every game, it looks as if the Washington soccer careers of these young players won't be going anywhere but up in the years to come.

'They're everything we hoped they would be,' Wurzburger said. 'If they keep progressing the way that they do, then they'll become top forwards down the road -- the best in the west.'

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