Building It Back Up

Sept. 25, 2003

by Mason Kelley
UW Media Relations

The Husky men's soccer team had just finished a frustrating 6-10-3 season, the first losing season in head coach Dean Wurzberger's 11-year tenure at Washington.

However, instead of dwelling on the past, the Huskies used their frustrations to their advantage when they started practice again in January, and got back to basics.

'We came back with the returning core of 20 guys and we worked day and night,' Wurzberger said. 'We committed ourselves to a very rigorous off-season conditioning program to change the minds as much as the bodies. That rallied the guys, they sacrificed together and that's where it started.'

This workman-like attitude brought the Washington men's soccer team together and they are off to a 4-0-1 record so far this season. Last year was full of frustration, but through a tough schedule and some close losses the team was able to take learn some valuable lessons.

'That way my first losing season in 11 years here and I think the first losing season for any Husky soccer team for many years now,' Wurzberger said. 'We played one of the top-five schedules in the nation and six of our 10 losses were by one goal. It wasn't like we are smoked or blown out. We were in every game, but for some reason we just have that extra bit that it takes this year.'

22nd ranked Washington will have its early season success tested this weekend when they take on Kentucky and 11th ranked South Carolina in the Husky Classic.

'I think these will be some of the best teams we have played,' Wurzberger said of this weekend's tournament. 'South Carolina is ranked in the top-15. Having said that we also haven't played weak opponents.'

Washington has been without the services of junior Brett Wiesner, last year's leading goal scorer, and senior Seth Marsh, an all-Pac 10 honorable mention selection, for the first five games due to injury, so the key to the Huskies' success has been the impact of the younger players.

Freshman Kevin Forrest and sophomore Leo Totev have made the biggest impact combining for five goals in only five games.

'We initially saw him as a future wide player, a midfield player,' Wurzberger said of Forrest. 'He has come in and done a fantastic job for us up front. He is daring in his runs, he is bold, he is goal dangerous because he is very direct. He wants to get the goal.'

Totev, who spent most of his life playing soccer in Norway, took advantage of his last opportunity to come to America and play competitive soccer.

'He adds a little bit of a different flair, a touch of savvy, a little bit of attacking ability that I think accentuates our workman-like team,' Wurzberger said of what Totev brings to the team.

If you add in two freshmen and a sophomore at the back and you have a lot of inexperience on the field.

Fortunately for the Huskies the team is showing experience well beyond their years and they are finding different ways to win every game.

'There have been different circumstances each game,' Wurzberger said. 'Last weekend we scored early and had to weather the storm of an opponent trying to come into the game. That was impressive in that our guys never caved in or folded when we really could have, because things on the road are very difficult and the opposition is coming at you. To protect a lead you have to play with a lot of savvy.'

The Husky men's soccer team got back to work last January, looking to show that last season was a fluke. If they can get a grab at least one win this weekend they should have all the momentum they need to enter Pac-10 play at the top their game, with the ultimate goal of getting back to the NCAA tournament.

Now on Pac-12 Network
2:00 PM PT

Airing on:

  • Pac-12 Network