No. 21 Huskies Return Home For Two Non-Conference Contests

Sept. 23, 2008

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This Week's Schedule

Friday, Sept. 26, 2008
No. 21 Washington (7-1-0) vs. Utah (3-5-2) • 7 p.m. PT
Husky Soccer Field • Seattle, Wash.
Live stats available via Gametracker,

Sunday, Sept. 28, 2008
No. 21 Washington vs. Hawai'i (3-3-2) • Noon PT
Husky Soccer Field • Seattle, Wash.
Live stats available via Gametracker,

After a four-game road swing, the No. 21 Washington women's soccer returns home this weekend for a pair of non-conference matches. The games mark two of the last three non-conference tests for the Huskies before they embark on the Pac-10 portion of their schedule. UW will host Utah on Friday at 7 p.m. before entertaining Hawaii on Sunday at Noon.

The Huskies head into the weekend with a 7-1-0 record, having notched the second-best start in program history with their 7-0-0 start before falling to No. 23 Illinois on Sunday.

Washington faced their first big test of the season as they traveled to the Midwest to take on two ranked Big Ten foes, both of which are coming off NCAA Second Round appearances in 2007. The Huskies passed the first test, squeaking by No. 28 Purdue, 1-0, before falling to No. 23 Illinois, 3-0.

Friday's game was a thriller as the Boilermakers and Huskies looked headed to overtime before UW senior Melissa Beal broke a scoreless tie in the 87th minute when she dribbled her way past a couple Purdue defenders and found the back of the net for her fourth goal of the season and second game-winner.

The Huskies were not as fortunate Sunday as the No. 23 Illini came out firing, scoring just four minutes into the match and never looking back. They tacked on two more goals in the half to jump out to the 3-0 lead. UW refused to quit, giving themselves several opportunities to get back in the match in the second half as they out-shot the Illini, 8-3, but they were unable to capitalize and fell to 7-1-0, just one win shy of tying for the best start in program history.

On the strength of their victory over Purdue last Friday and a 7-1-0 record, the Huskies are ranked for the first time since the end of the 2004 season. UW comes in at No. 21 this week in the Soccer Buzz rankings after receiving votes last week. The Huskies also moved up to No. 5 in the Soccer Buzz West Region rankings, also their highest regional ranking since 2004.

All Husky home games will be streamed live via Gametracker on the Huskies official website, Most away games can also be followed via the internet. Check the website to find links to all the action.

The Huskies return home this weekend for the first time since early September and it will be a busy weekend. Sunday is alumni day at Husky Soccer Field as several past Husky stars, including gold-medalist Hope Solo, will make an appearance along with several men's alums as the Husky men's team plays immediately following the women. Sunday is also autograph day with Husky soccer players available for signatures after their match.

While the season is still not halfway complete, Washington looks poised to return to the national spotlight after three difficult seasons. After a program-best Elite Eight finish in 2004, the Huskies suffered three-consecutive losing seasons but head coach Lesle Gallimore has the team back on the right track.

Through eight games this season, the Huskies are off to the second-best start in program history at 7-1-0, tied with the 2000 team - which won the Pac-10 title - and just behind the 2004 team which advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight. Time will tell if the 2008 team can keep up the Olympic-year success, but so far they are on pace to join those teams in the record books.

The Huskies have already won two more games this season than they did last season and have equaled their win total from the 2006 season. Led by a trio of upperclassmen and strong contributions from a slew of underclassmen, the Huskies are outscoring their opponents, 17-6, this season and have limited teams to an average of just over six shots a game. Juniors Veronica Perez and Alex Kirk lead the Huskies in goals (6) and assists (4), respectively, while senior Melissa Beal has chipped in four goals, two of which have been game-winners.

Utah comes into the match with the Huskies with a 3-5-2 record, having rebounded recently from a four-match losing streak to win twice and earn two ties in the last four games. Three of their four losses have come at the hands of Pac-10 opponents as they fell to Arizona, Oregon and Oregon State during their four-game skid.

The Utes went 12-5-4 last season but just 3-2-2 in the Mountain West Conference and just missed a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years. They return 14 letterwinners and eight starters from that team, including Katy Reineke, the team's second-leading scorer in 2007, and Kelly Isleib, whose 13 assists last season were a school record. The Utes are coached by Rich Manning, who has compiled an 87-34-16 record in his six-plus seasons at the helm of Utah women's soccer.

The Huskies have never beaten the Utes in three tries, including a 3-2 setback last season in Salt Lake City. Two of the three matches between the schools have gone to double overtime, with Utah prevailing in Seattle, 3-2, the first time the teams faced each other in 1998 and then edging UW, 1-0, in Utah in double OT in 1999.

Current Utah senior Katy Reineke had two goals and an assist in last year's victory while UW got goals from current junior Nikki Murray and sophomore McKenna Waitley. Veronica Perez, who has turned into the Huskies' biggest scoring threat as a junior this season, had the assist on both goals for UW.

The Rainbow Wahine currently hold a 3-3-2 record and are coming off a big victory over the weekend in their own Outrigger Hotels & Resorts Soccer Classic as they knocked off No. 23 UC-Santa Barbara, 2-1, in overtime. The victory, which gave them the tournament title, is Hawaii's first over a top-25 opponent in the 15-year history of the program.

Last season, Hawaii went 15-5-2 and 6-1 in the Western Athletic Conference to earn the conference championship and their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth. The Rainbow Wahine return nine starters from that team, including WAC Offensive Player of the Year Ambree Ako and WAC Defensive Player of the Year Tehane Higa. Hawaii is coached by Pinsoom Tenzig who has compiled a 127-128-24 record in his 14-plus seasons in Hawaii.

Former Husky Gina Brewer returns to Seattle this weekend as an assistant coach with Hawaii. Brewer played for the Huskies from 1998-2001, helping the team capture the program's first-ever Pac-10 title and advancing to the NCAA Tournament in three of her four seasons. The 2000 team was ranked as high as No. 2 nationally during the season and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in addition to their Pac-10 championship.

After graduating from UW in 2002 with a degree in sociology and a minor in communications, Brewer landed her first coaching gig at the University of Idaho where she stayed for three years. She also coached at Utah State before her hiring at Hawaii.

The Huskies and Rainbow Wahine have faced off just one other time, with the Huskies coming away with 1-0 win in 2006 in Honolulu. Melissa Beal scored the lone goal in that match which opened the 2006 season and was the Huskies' first since the 2004 season after the 2005 team went 0-17-3.

UW has never lost to a team in the Western Athletic Conference, posting a perfect 6-0 record which includes a 1-0 record against Hawaii. The Huskies have also defeated Fresno State, Idaho and Utah State once each and hold a 2-0 mark against San Jose State.

Times have been a little tougher against the Mountain West but UW still has a winning mark against the conference at 9-7-2. Their most victories have come against San Diego State, who the Huskies hold a 6-1-1 edge over including a win earlier this season. UW is 0-3 against Utah and 1-3-1 against Air Force but has also picked up victories over New Mexico and Texas Christian.

Husky senior Melissa Beal gave the Huskies their seventh consecutive victory to open the 2008 season last Friday, scoring an unassisted goal in the 87th to give UW a 1-0 victory over Purdue. It was Beal's second game-winning goal of the season and the fifth of her career, which put her in a tie for ninth all-time in the UW record books.

Beal also moved into the top-10 for career goals scored this weekend with her 15th career goal. The senior is back as a scoring force for the Huskies this season with four goals in the first eight games. Beal had nine goals her first two seasons at UW before finding the back of the net just twice in 2007.

Junior Veronica Perez is enjoying a breakout season for the Huskies, scoring six goals and adding two assists in the first eight games. Perez came into this season with two goals and three assists in her first two seasons combined.

The San Mateo, Calif., native leads the Huskies in goals (6), points (14) and shots (29). She has also provided the game-winning goal in three of UW's seven wins this season, which is already tied for 10th all-time on the single-season charts.

Junior Alex Kirk is showing her unselfish nature this season as the Edmonds, Wash., native leads the Huskies with four assists. Kirk has been finding her teammates at the right time as three of her passes have led to game-winning goals. That mark already ranks tied for eighth on the UW single-season charts and she needs just two more game-winning assists to tie the single-season record.

Showing she can also find the net herself, Kirk scored twice in the Huskies' two victories against San Diego State and Northern Arizona at the Portland Nike Invitational and she is tied with Melissa Beal for second on the squad with eight points.

While the Huskies dropped their first match of the season, 3-0, against No. 23 Illinois last weekend, UW is still off to a hot start thanks in large part to a stellar defensive effort this season. Prior to the Illinois game, UW had not allowed more than one goal in their first seven games and had outscored their opponents, 17-3.

As it stands, the Huskies have posted three shutouts this season and have allowed opponents to take just 53 total shots in eight games. They have out-shot their opponents in all eight contests this season. Head coach Lesle Gallimore credits defenders Kendyl Pele and Lindsey Kasser with holding down the backline while junior goalkeeper Alex Phillips has also been a positive force in goal, posting two shutouts and amassing a 6-1 record.

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