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No. 2 Huskies Use Dramatic Comeback to Defeat No. 23 UCLA

Oct 3, 2021

SEATTLE -- It's safe to say the Washington men's soccer team has a flair for the dramatics.

At one point on Sunday afternoon, it looked like the undefeated season for the No. 2 Huskies would come to an end at the hands of No. 23 UCLA. And less than five minutes later, jubilation took over at Husky Soccer Stadium, as Washington came back from a 1-0 deficit to take a 2-1 lead in the blink of an eye. The Huskies would go on to defeat the Bruins and get out to the best start in program history at 9-0-0.

"These are just tight, hard games," head coach Jamie Clark said. "Iron sharpens iron, as they say. We get better and better through the season because teams force us to. UCLA forced us to work on our pressing. They're very confident on the ball and really asked some questions. We didn't give away many chances and we created chances. To me, that's the name of the game... We created more and I thought that we deserved it."

In the first 45 minutes, Washington established itself as the aggressor, posting nine shots to UCLA's three and earning five corner kicks. And while the pressure from the Huskies was relentless, they found themselves in a 0-0 tie at halftime for the fourth straight match. 

The second half saw UW post another nine shots and continue to create chances, but there was no breakthrough.

A breakthrough did come in the 80th minute, but not one the team was hoping for. A mistake on the Husky back line combined with a hard press from the Bruins led to UCLA having a free chance and slotting home a go-ahead goal. 

Despite the costly error, UW still had a lot to fight for with time on the clock over 1100 Husky fans depending on the team.

"It's our house and we just fight until the end," midfielder Imanol Rosales said of the team's mindset. "It doesn't matter who makes the mistake. We're a team, so everyone makes a mistake, everyone fixes it."

With just 10 minutes left in the match and the Washington trailing for the first time since its first match of the season, the team was in need of inspiration. 

The defensive duo of Charlie Ostrem and Ryan Sailor would provide just that in the 84th minute. After a hard foul saw Pietro Grassi of the Bruins shown a yellow card, Ostrem stepped up on the ensuing free kick and delivered a tasteful service that Sailor flicked on into the back of the net to tie the game. 

It was Sailor's second goal of the season and sixth point, all of which have come on set pieces. The towering presence that Sailor and fellow defender Kendall Burks has made the Huskies one of the top set piece teams in the nation. 

"When you have guys like Chuck (Ostrem) and (Dylan) Teves serving the ball into those special spots, it's makes it kind of easy," Sailor said. "We just do our part and the rest follows."

The late goal may have produced the thought of overtime, which is all too familiar to UW, as half of its matches have gone the distance.

But before fans had time to finish celebrating Sailor's goal, the Huskies were on the break again. 

Ilijah Paul worked his way into the box and held possession just long enough to dish a pash towards the run of Imanol Rosales. After creating space to his right, Rosales roofed a shot in the top-right corner to give UW a 2-1 lead and send the Husky sideline into a frenzy. 

"We worked so hard, it was a tough game," Rosales said. "I just wanted to do it for the boys, for the coaches, for the fans, for the university. It's just awesome."

The final five minutes ticked away and the final whistle blew with Washington securing the win and the best start to a season in program history at 9-0-0. 

Despite having played five one-goal matches and four overtime contests, the Huskies simply find ways to win each time they take the field.

"This is definitely a very special team," Ryan Sailor said. "I'm going on my sixth season now and this is definitely the closest team I've been a part of. I think that showed today. Whenever we have our backs against the wall, we're going to band together, we're going to fight back and we're going to do it together."