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UW offense runs dry in loss to Seattle U

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Kyle Coffee shields a Seattle U player off of the ball. Coffee had two of Washington's four shots on target, but couldn't find the back of the net.

The No. 16 Washington men’s soccer team went into Sunday’s game against Seattle U looking to get its revenge on the team that eliminated it in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament. However, in front of a crowd of 2,994 people, the Huskies could not pull out a goal, much less a win against the Redhawks, falling 2-0.

This is the first time that the UW has lost two straight games to Seattle U in program history, and the first time in almost two years that the team has been shut out in back-to-back games. Since their second goal in the Akron game exactly two weeks ago, the Huskies (5-3) have gone 258 minutes without a goal in what can only be described as an offensive drought.

“It was a tough game,” head coach Jamie Clark said. “If they’re gonna be physical you hope you’re going to get set pieces and you’re gonna make them pay on set pieces. I think that has to be your philosophy, whatever you do you have to make it go against them. We had our share of set pieces, but the wells run dry right now, so we’ll be revisiting those over and over again.”

Washington dominated possession in the opening 45 minutes, focusing on build-up play and moving the ball from wing to wing, contrary to the counterattacking and fast-paced style the team normally employs. This strategy quickly paid off in the 6th minute, when sophomore midfielder Blake Bodily blasted a shot from outside the box, but it caromed off the left post and out.

Seattle U on the other hand, seemed to rely solely on quick counterattacks and long balls down the field to generate its offense, which played right into the UW’s hands.

Despite their ability to control the ball, the Huskies had trouble getting anything in the back of the net. With the ball deep in the box in the 29th minute, redshirt senior forward Kyle Coffee had a shot from in close that was blocked. The ball then immediately bounced to senior midfielder Corban Anderson, and his attempt hit off the left post. Bodily had one last chance in the sequence to put one in the back of the net, but his shot was blocked.

The game evolved into a physical affair, with redshirt senior midfielder Luke Hauswirth in the center of the action. Hauswirth got into a few scuffles with Redhawks freshman midfielder Declan McGlynn, and they almost went to blows on one occasion.

The two teams played themselves to a stand-still by the time the first half ended, with the battle in midfield more furious than ever. However, Washington finished the half with a 10-3 shot advantage.

“It was a one-way game for the whole first half, it wasn’t a question of if, it was a question of how many,” Clark said. “But if you don’t get them, the game’s going to sway a little bit.”

Seattle U opened the second half with all of the momentum, mixing in ball control with good individual efforts. In the 55th minute, senior midfielder Sergio Rivas made defender after defender stumble in his wake as he raced down the field and dumped off a pass to McGlynn, whose shot was ultimately saved by redshirt junior goalkeeper Saif Kerawala.

Two minutes later, Rivas helped the Redhawks (6-3) score the first goal of the game, when he put in a cross from the left side of the box into redshirt sophomore forward Noe Meza, who converted the easy header.

Washington had trouble getting any momentum back until the 69th minute. After Hauswirth was fouled once again, the ensuing free kick found redshirt sophomore defender Cole Grimsby, whose header was on target, but ended up sailing high.  

Grimsby was involved in another near-goal when he sent in a nice cross to freshman forward Dylan Teves, but his attempt also went just high over the top left corner.

In the 82nd minute, the Redhawks put the game to bed. McGlynn got the ball on the break, made a few moves on the defender, and rolled a shot right past a diving Kerawala for their second goal. The Washington bench thought that Hauswirth was fouled on the play, but it continued on and McGlynn had a free run at the net.

“I actually don’t know, because I thought it was a foul, and all of a sudden the ball was on the other side of the field,” Clark said. “I looked the other way because I thought we were gonna be putting the ball down and playing the other way, but I don’t know what happened, I’m not sure.”

The Huskies tried furiously to find any type of offense in the last 10 minutes, but every time they went for goal it was clear that the attack wouldn’t pan out, and the team was very visibly frustrated.

“It’s similar to last year’s game, we walked away with a 2-0 win, and I thought they were the better team,” Clark said. “Today, we walk away down 2-0, and I think we’re the better team.”

Reach reporter Chris Angkico at Twitter: @chrisangkico

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