Women's Soccer Hits The Road For Two Key Match-Ups

Sept. 9, 2009

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Merlo Field
Portland, Ore.

4:30 p.m. - No. 22 Washington (3-1-0) vs. Miami (3-2-0)

Noon - No. 22 Washington vs. No. 11/13 Illinois (3-1-1)


The No. 22 Washington women's soccer team hits the road for the first time in 2009 when they travel down to the Nike Portland Invitational to face a pair of tough opponents. UW will begin the tournament on Friday with a match against 2008 NCAA Tournament team Miami at 4:30 p.m., followed by a re-match with No. 11/13 Illinois, who handed the Huskies their first loss of the season in 2008, on Sunday at Noon. UW and Portland will not face each other over the weekend but this is the third consecutive weekend they've played on the same field. The Pilots defeated UW on Aug. 30 in Seattle and also traveled north for the Husky Nike Invitational last weekend.

The Huskies won a pair of games in the Husky Nike Invitational but just missed winning the tournament for the first time since 2004. UW racked up six goals in their two victories, a 3-0 blanking of Columbia and a 3-1 win over Colorado College, but Portland tallied seven goals in their two wins to take home the title. Still, the Huskies were impressive in their two victories, getting several different players involved.

On Friday, sophomore Kelli Stewart broke out for the first two goals of her career as the Huskies defeated Columbia, 3-0. Kate Deines tallied the game-winner in the 12th minute for her first goal of the season to help the Huskies cruise. Against Colorado College, the Dawgs fell behind for the third time in four games before posting their second come-from-behind victory, scoring three unanswered goals in the second half to earn their third victory. Stewart was again the hero, scoring the game-winning goal in the 61st minute after senior Nikki Murray had tied it on a free kick in the 56th minute. Freshman Jessie Young got into the act with her first career goal in the 66th minute to seal the deal. UW junior Kendyl Pele was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

UW head coach Lesle Gallimore was convinced her team would not be a one-woman scoring machine in 2009, confident players other than Veronica Perez would step up to handle the scoring load. Through four games, Gallimore appears to be right as six different players have accounted for UW's eight goals thus far. Perez has one of those goals as does 2008 All-Pac-10 Freshman Team honoree Kate Deines, but the team has also received three goals from sophomore Kelli Stewart and one each from seniors Alex Kirk and Nikki Murray and freshman Jessie Young. The goal for Murray was just the second of her career while Stewart and Young each notched their first career goals.

Despite being a veteran-laden team, the Huskies have received solid contributions from their freshmen and sophomores thus far in 2009. Five of their eight goals have come from underclassmen through the first four games, three of which have come from Stewart, who is listed as a sophomore but did not appear in any games in 2008. Freshman Jessie Young tallied her first goal while fellow rookie Louise Albin has appearaed in all four games - making three starts - and Kelsea Brajkovich has appeared in three matches, making one start.

Fans can follow the Washington women's soccer team on Facebook by going to www.facebook.com and searching for 'Washington Husky Women's Soccer'. Head coach Lesle Gallimore also has a Twitter account and fans wishing to follow the long-time Washington coach can go to www.twitter.com/LGSoccerdawg.

Live scoring for all matches this weekend will be available on GoHuskies.com via Gametracker. All home games this season will feature live video and audio on GoHuskies.com with a Dawg Channel All-Access pass. Men's and women's soccer games are free of charge through this service.

The Huskies are ranked No. 22 this week by TopDrawerSoccer.com and they are also receiving votes in both the NSCAA and the Soccer Times polls. The Huskies have the fifth-most votes among teams just outside the Soccer Times top-25 and are just 19 votes shy of breaking into the rankings. In the NSCAA poll, they received the eighth-most votes among those just outside the top-25.

UW reached as high as No. 16 in 2008 in the Soccer Buzz poll and was also ranked as high as No. 18 in the RPI after a brutal schedule in which they played five teams ranked in the top-10. The Huskies have an equally impressive schedule in 2009, facing four teams ranked in the preseason top-10 and six ranked teams overall.

A 2008 NCAA Tournament team, Miami comes into this weekend with a 3-2-0 record, having defeated Florida Gulf Coast, Ball State and Western Carolina and fallen to No. 8 Florida, 1-0, along with a 1-0 loss to Navy. The Hurricanes boast a 10-player freshman class that joins a solid group of returners to take on one of the toughest schedules in the nation. Miami will face 10 teams that advanced to the 2008 NCAA Tournament, including three teams that advanced to the Elite Eight.

In addition to their 10 freshmen, the Hurricanes also boast a pair of talented sophomores in Brittney Steinbruch and goalkeeper Vikki Alonzo. Steinbruch, who led the team in `08 in goals (8) and points (16), was named the ACC Freshman of the Year, while Alonzo was named to the Third-Team Freshman All-American squad by the Soccer Buzz staff for her performance in net. She shattered the previous UM school record for shutouts in a single season with 11, eclipsing the old record of six. Her 11 shutouts were best in the ACC as were her 114 total saves.

This weekend marks the first-ever match-up between Washington and Miami. UW's last game against an ACC team came in 2006 when the Huskies fell to North Carolina, 4-0.

The Illini are ranked as high as No. 11 nationally in the NSCAA poll, boasting a 3-1-1 record with wins over Illinois State, Colorado and UC-Santa Barbara while falling to No. 9 UCLA, 2-1. Illinois has made six consecutive NCAA appearances, including three Sweet Sixteen finishes in the last five years. The Illini return eight starters from last year's squad that was one of those recent Sweet Sixteen finishers.

Among the Illini's eight returners are goalkeeper Alexandra Kapicka, who posted nine shutouts last season and a goals-against average of 0.80 that ranked as the second-best in school history. Also returning in the backfield is second-team All-Big-Ten selection Danielle Kot, who played every minute in the backfield last season. Two-time All-Big-Ten performer Jackie Santacaterina returns to the midfield while the front line features Chichi Nweke who has tallied 49 career points (17 goals and 15 assists) to rank eighth all-time in Illinois history. Nweke will aim to continue her movement up the record books in her final season after leading the Illini with 18 points (seven goals, four assists) in 2008, including four game-winners.

The Huskies went into their first-ever match-up with the Illini last season with a 7-0 record and looking to post their best start in program history, but the Illini stopped them, 3-0. Nweke put up a goal and an assist in the match while Kapicka handed the Huskies their first shutout of the season.

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