It was maybe the best match that the No. 21 Washington men’s soccer team played all season. The Dawgs’ ball movement was pinpoint, their effort on defense was inspired, and they were able to keep pace with mighty No. 6 Stanford for most of the 90 minutes. However, after an action-packed first 15 minutes of play in which the Cardinal (11-2-1, 5-0-1 Pac-12) established a 2-1 lead, the Huskies (9-5-1, 2-3-1 Pac-12) were not able to find the back of the net for the remainder of the game, and they took their second straight loss.
Given that these two teams played exactly a week earlier, the animosity between them was fresh, and it showed in the opening moments of the match. UW head coach Jamie Clark and Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn traded barks at the referees as the first half progressed, but surprisingly only one yellow card was issued in the opening period.
The first 20 minutes of the match were as frantic as soccer games get. Both the Huskies and Cardinal moved the ball at a furious pace, and it was inevitable that a goal would be scored in the first 10 minutes.
And it happened. Twice.
The first goal was scored in the seventh minute by Stanford junior midfielder Amir Bashti, after a shot by senior midfielder Bryce Marion was saved by redshirt sophomore keeper Saif Kerawala, forcing him out of position and leaving him helpless to stop Bashti from putting the ball in the back of the net.
It took no time at all for the Huskies to retaliate. Senior defender Justin Fiddes quickly brought the ball down the field right shortly after the goal, saw redshirt junior forward Kyle Coffee racing towards the net, and Fiddes roped in a beautiful cross that hit Coffee’s right foot perfectly as he tapped the ball in to quickly tie the score.
However, the stalemate was just as short-lived. Three minutes after Coffee’s goal, the Cardinal played a ball into the box, and Kerawala came out to meet senior midfielder Drew Skundrich at the point of attack. Skundrich, who scored Stanford’s lone goal in the game last week, headed the ball backwards and took out Kerawala in the process, and on the receiving end of the header was senior forward Foster Langsdorf, who tapped in his Pac-12 leading ninth goal of the season to give the away team its lead right back.
The pace slowed down considerably in the last 25 minutes of the half, though junior midfielder Corban Anderson had a point-blank opportunity at Stanford’s goal in the 20th minute that missed just wide. Both squads battled at midfield and opportunities generated at goal were sparse.
The second half was largely stagnant as well. Both sides were defending well and keeping the action at midfield once again, and no goals were scored in the period.
However, in the 71st minute, Washington lost its starting goalkeeper to a straight red card. Langsdorf had the ball 10 yards outside the box, and Kerawala came up to meet him. But instead of playing the ball, he played Langsdorf’s feet, taking him out and making the referee’s decision easy. He will miss Sunday’s game against California.
Late on in the match, Washington tried to revive its offense by going back to the fast pace that dominated the first minutes of the game. They were able to generate a few opportunities near Stanford’s box in the closing five minutes, but ultimately they were not able to find the equalizer.
“I thought that that was some of the best soccer we’ve played all year,” Clark said. “We had chances, and we didn’t capitalize on them. Their keeper made a couple good saves, but I’d say on the day [Stanford] was fortunate.”
Reach reporter Chris Angkico at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @chrisangkico