Huskies Head To College Station For NCAA First Round

Nov. 12, 2008

NCAA Tournament Central

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This Week's Schedule

Friday, Nov. 14, 2008
No. 22 Washington (14-5-1, 5-3-1) vs. Louisiana State (14-3-2, 7-3-1) • 2 p.m. PT
Aggie Soccer Stadium • College Station, Texas

Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008

No. 22 Washington vs. Texas St./Texas A&M • 11:30 a.m. PT
Aggie Soccer Stadium • College Station, Texas

The No. 22 Washington women's soccer team makes its first trip to the postseason since 2004 and its ninth all-time when the Huskies travel to College Station, Texas, Friday to take on No. 20 LSU at 2 p.m. PT. The No. 3 seed in the North Carolina Region, the Texas A&M Aggies, are the host school and they will face Texas State immediately following the Huskies' match with the Tigers. The winners will play each other Sunday at 11:30 a.m. PT at Aggie Soccer Stadium.

The team will travel to College Station on Wednesday and practice Thursday at Aggie Soccer Stadium, which hosted the 2007 College Cup. The Huskies will then face LSU on Friday in the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

UW is back in the tournament after a three-year layoff which came on the heels of the program's best-ever finish in the NCAAs, an Elite Eight run in 2004. Prior to that, their best finish was a Sweet Sixteen run in 2000.

This week marks UW's ninth trip overall to the postseason where they are 7-7-1 all time (games that require a shootout in any round other than the national title match count as a tie). UW missed the postseason in each of the first three years of the program before Lesle Gallimore took over as head coach in 1994 and led the team to the NCAA tournament in each of her first three seasons. The Huskies also made appearances in 1998, 2001 and 2003.

UW wrapped up its ninth postseason berth with two big wins at home last weekend over Arizona State and Arizona, both by 2-1 scores.

On Friday, UW edged the Sun Devils in overtime on Veronica Perez's 11th goal of the season. ASU got on the board first with a goal in the 22nd minute but UW responded when freshman Kate Deines headed in a pass from senior Jenna Robison in the 32nd minute. The teams remained tied through regulation until just 50 seconds into overtime, Perez was fouled inside the box and was awarded a penalty kick. While the Sun Devils' goalkeeper made the save on the PK, Perez followed her shot and sent the ball into the empty net, giving UW the 2-1 win.

There was more drama on Sunday as UW played more than half the match with 10 players when freshman Alex Webber was given a red card after colliding with the Wildcats' goalkeeper. UW, which had jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Deines' sixth goal of the season in the 13th minute, scored a short-handed goal just 15 minutes into the second half when Perez notched her 12th goal of the year. Arizona went on the attack in the final 30 minutes, pulling within one with eight minutes to play, but UW's defense held firm and assured the Huskies of a tie for third in the Pac-10 standings.

UW's ninth NCAA tournament berth completes a full-circle comeback for the Huskies, who saw the highest of highs and the lowest of lows over a two-year span in 2004 and 2005. After a program-best NCAA Elite Eight finish and in 2004, UW went 0-17-3 in 2005. The Huskies went through a two-year rebuilding process in 2006 and 2007 when they won seven and five games, respectively, before bouncing back this season to post a 14-5-1 record - the third-most wins in school history - and a 5-3-1 Pac-10 record, tied for third with defending national champion USC.

The Huskies started the season winning their first seven games - the second-best start in program history - before falling at Illinois, 3-0. After two wins to improve to 9-1, the Huskies faced one of the most brutal stretches of any team in the country, playing No. 4 Portland, No. 9 USC, No. 2 UCLA and No. 5 Stanford all in succession. While the Huskies lost all four matches, they forced both Portland and USC into overtime, proving they could hang with the best.

UW then finished the regular season on a six-game unbeaten streak, defeating then-No. 13 Cal, Oregon and Oregon State, before settling on a 0-0 draw with Washington State. The Huskies closed out the regular-season slate last week with wins at home over the Arizona schools.

The Huskies have just three active seniors and have largely been carried by a group of freshmen and sophomores. The key cog, however, has been junior Veronica Perez (San Mateo, Calif.), who leads the team in goals, shots, game-winning goals and assists. Perez, who had just two career goals coming into the season, ranks second in the conference in game-winning goals (6), third in goals (12) and fourth in points (29).

UW is ranked for the third consecutive week in the Soccer Buzz poll and the second straight week in the Soccer Times rankings. The NSCAA is the only poll in which the Huskies have not yet been ranked in 2008 but they have been the next-highest vote getter on several occasions. UW entered the rankings for the first time on Sept. 23 when it came in at No. 21 in the Soccer Buzz rankings and reached a high of 16th in the Soccer Buzz poll on Oct. 7. UW was ranked No. 18 in last week's NCAA RPI rankings.

Live stats from this weekend's matches will be available via Gametracker on UW's official website, Live video will also be available at Texas A&M's official tournament headquarters. Check for the link.

The Tigers, ranked as high as 14th by Soccer America this week, come in with a 14-3-2 overall record. This marks their second consecutive postseason berth and second overall. LSU advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in its first-ever appearance last year with a 1-0 double overtime win over Samford in the opening round in Tallahassee, Fla.

The Tigers enter the postseason having just won its second straight SEC Western Division championship while winning more games in conference play than ever before with a 7-3-1 mark for 22 points in SEC play this season. LSU is led by junior Hermann Trophy candidate Malorie Rutledge, the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Year. Rutledge has eight goals and an incredible 18 assists this season, which puts her second on the SEC's all-time list for single-season assists. Freshman goalkeeper Mo Isom has played every minute for LSU, posting seven shutouts on the season.

Common Opponents: None

The Huskies will be facing LSU for the first time in program history. It will mark the sixth SEC school UW has faced in program history as they have compiled a 4-3-1 record against the conference. UW is 1-0 against both Auburn and Alabama, 1-1 against Arkansas and Tennessee and 0-1-1 against Georgia. UW's win against Auburn came in the 2004 NCAA tournament.

The Aggies are making their 14th straight postseason appearance and are the No. 3 seed in the North Carolina regional, one of four teams earning a No. 3 seed for the tournament. A&M boasts a 15-4-1 overall record and come in as high as No. 9 in the national rankings (Soccer Times). The Aggies finished second in the Big 12 conference with a 7-2-1 record before falling to Kansas in the Big 12 Conference Tournament quarterfinals.

The Aggies carry a balanced scoring attack with eight different players posting double-digit points and nine different players finding the back of the net at least four times. Sophomore Rachel Shipley leads the team with 16 points (four goals, eight assists), while senior Laura Robinson has a team-high six goals. Sophomore Kelly Dyer leads the team in goal with a 13-4-1 record and six shutouts.

Common Opponents: California - W, 1-0

The Huskies have never beaten the Aggies, falling all three times the teams have faced each other. The teams first met in the 2001 season in Seattle where A&M won, 1-0. The teams met in College Station the following season and this time the Aggies squeaked by, 2-1, in overtime. The only other time the teams played each other was in 2005 - the Huskies' 0-17-3 campaign - when the Aggies won, 6-0, at the Tennessee Classic in Knoxville.

The Bobcats are making their fourth NCAA postseason appearance in the 10-year history of the program. The Bobcats earned the postseason bid after claiming the Southland Conference regular season crown and SLC Tournament title. Texas State is currently riding a 13-game unbeaten streak, posting its first-ever undefeated league season with a 7-0-2 record. Overall, Texas State has a 13-3-4 mark, just one win shy of tying the all-time record for most wins in a season set by the 2001 class.

Texas State is led by sophomore Britney Curry, who has contributed 12 goals and three assists this season. Three other players - freshman Erica Michaud, junior Andrea Grifo and sophomore Lauren Lewis - have also scored in double figures.

Common Opponents: None

The Huskies have never played the Bobcats and, in fact, have never played a team from the Southland Conference.

Amy Griffin UPDATE
UW associate head coach Amy Griffin is in the midst of a sabbatical from the Huskies while she travels with the Under-17 U.S. Women's National Team. Griffin, the USA's goalkeeper coach, was a goalkeeper for the Red, White and Blue when it won the very first World Cup in 1991. Now, in the first year of the U-17 World Cup, Griffin is with the team in New Zealand where they are looking to continue the USA's streak of winning the first-ever World Cup contested in every age group.

The U-17 team won the CONCACAF Women's Championship in Trinidad & Tobago this summer, giving them a berth in the World Cup, which started two weeks ago in Auckland, New Zealand. The U.S. finished second in group C to advance to the quarterfinals where they defeated Korea Republic, 4-2, to set up a semifinal showdown with Germany on Nov. 13. Should the Huskies advance past the NCAA Second Round, Griffin will be back on the sidelines for UW.

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