Husky Women's Soccer Off To A Blistering Start
Oct. 3, 2003
By Mason KelleySpecial to GoHuskies.com
Seattle - The 13th-ranked Washington women's soccer team has gotten off to a blistering 5-2-2 start to their 2003 campaign. That is impressive for a team that was picked to finish in the mid-to-lower half of the Pac-10 conference.
'I think we are doing better than people thought,' senior Melissa Bennett said, unsurprised about the team's hot start. 'We had high expectations for ourselves anyway.'
What has been the difference for a team that lost its superstar goalkeeper Hope Sole and narrowly missed the NCAA tournament last year?
'We didn't show up for a lot of games last year,' junior Tina Frimpong said. 'This year we have our head on our shoulders chemistry wise.
It has been a new sense of chemistry that was forged by the mutual frustration and disappointment of being denied a place in the NCAA tournament. The team worked all year with a sense of urgency to get back to the playoffs.
It has paid off and the only blemishes to their record are a 2-1 overtime loss to top-ranked North Carolina and a 1-0 loss to - what has become the perennial thorn in the side of the Huskies - sixth-ranked Portland.
The Huskies have had a rough time with Portland over the years, going 1-15-1 all-time. It is one of those rivalries that fans, players and coaches can't figure out. The Huskies always seem to give Portland a good game but end up falling just short.
'It was really disappointing because we didn't play our best,' Frimpong said of the loss. 'We came out really flat in the first half and we were really disappointed with the way we played. The second half they didn't get one shot off. We were totally dominating. It just shows we can hang with them.'
The Huskies lone win against Portland came in a 2000, but the Pilots turned around and knocked Washington out of the playoffs, in a 1-0 loss in the NCAA tournament.
Bennett was on that team as a freshman, so she knows what it feels like to lose to Portland. She is just hoping that things work out the other way this season.
'Yeah, it happened the opposite way freshman year,' Bennett said about the Huskies chances of getting a win against Portland in the playoffs. 'So playoffs are what counts.'
The playoffs are where the Huskies will really get a chance to show their improvement. For them to get to that point they are going to need Bennett to keep feeding the ball up the pitch, setting up scoring opportunities for Frimpong, Kim Taylor and others.
Bennett's 26 assists are just one shy of the team record of 27. She has already picked up five assists in eight games this season. However, getting the record means little to Bennett.
'I am not concerned with that at all,' Bennett said of getting the chance to tie or break the record this weekend when the Huskies take on Portland State on Friday and Idaho State on Sunday. 'All I care about is winning two games this weekend.'
Washington will have a chance to take out some of its Rose City frustrations on the Portland State Vikings this weekend. If Bennett does get the record it will probably be via a through ball to Frimpong, who already has eight goals.
Frimpong has been named Pac-10 player of the week twice this season and is running circles around defenders.
'Girls just give me awesome balls,' Frimpong said of how she keeps finding herself in front of the goal. 'You can't help but put those ones away.'
Credit can also go to a new formation that puts more emphasis on offense.
After a frustrating year last year, the Washington defense is allowing less than one goal per game. A big part of that has been the impressive play of Lisa Brookens who has filled in marvelously for Solo, who graduated.
The Huskies have high hopes for the rest of the season and they are primed to take on a very tough Pac-10 conference.
'We just have to carry ourselves with confidence and we will go far, you'll see,' Frimpong said with a smile.
They are carrying themselves with confidence right now and if they keep on winning, come playoff time, Portland better watch out.
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