Tourney Bound: Huskies Headed For Portland

Nov. 10, 2009

• Portland Region Tournament Central + Ticket Info

By Jacob Thorpe
The Daily

They sat in silence. Only the sounds of nervous fingernail biting and the occasional tension-breaking wisecrack filled the air. Then, all at once, pandemonium. Shrieks and screams filled the air and the sounds of 'Oh my God!' and, 'I knew it! I knew it! I told you!' crushed any hope the television had of being heard.

This tempest of sound was caused by the announcement that the UW women's soccer team had been selected for the 2009-2010 NCAA tournament. Although the Huskies had a decent regular season, where they finished with an 11-5-4 record overall and a 3-3-3 mark in the Pac-10, Washington was by no means guaranteed a tournament spot.

But the selection committee thought that Washington's body of work was impressive enough and rewarded the Huskies with a matchup this Friday against Ole Miss of the SEC. The game will be played at either 4:30 or 7:30 p.m. in Portland, Ore. The only common opponent between the two schools is the Miami Hurricanes, who defeated Ole Miss 2-0 in Miami and beat Washington 1-0 in the Portland Invitational.

The relief was palpable when the Huskies were called. Some players were confident that they would be selected, whereas others couldn't have been more nervous.

'If our name hadn't been called, I swear I would have had a breakdown,' sophomore Kate Deines said. 'I'm so excited, and I think we'll do really well this year, just like last year.'

Seniors Nikki Murray and Veronica Perez were a little more confident.

'We were optimistic. We had a good feeling that we did really well and that we would get in,' Murray said.

'We had a good feeling,' Perez added.

One of the big surprises this year was the number of Pac-10 teams that made the final field of 65. Eight teams from the conference were selected, and only Oregon and Arizona were left out. UCLA and Stanford were No. 1 seeds.

'I think we have the toughest conference in the nation, so to play in the Pac-10 and do well in it helps our chances,' junior Kendyl Pele said.

Deines agreed: 'Just playing the teams we've faced these past few weeks has definitely prepared us for what we'll see in the tournament and has hopefully gotten us to a point where we can beat anyone,' she said.

The Huskies aren't looking past anyone, however.

'We've got to start doing a little research on Ole Miss and figure out our first opponent,' UW head coach Lesle Gallimore said. 'The SEC's strong. If they're coming out of that conference, they're going to be tough to contend with. They play a very tough schedule in [that] conference. You have to have respect for any opponent, particularly one that comes out of a conference as strong as they do.'

This is the second straight year that Washington has made the NCAA tournament, and they're hoping that streak never ends.

'We never intend to be out of the tournament again,' Gallimore said. 'We really built on what we started last year, and I think the next step for these kids is to make a longer run in the tournament.'

Reach reporter Jacob Thorpe at sports@dailyuw.com

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