In the 1000th game in its history, the No. 24 Washington men’s soccer team gave the fans in attendance a lot to cheer about in the season opener against Maryland. The Huskies (1-0) cruised to a 2-0 over the Terrapins (0-1) in front of a sizable crowd of 1,354 fans. Seventeen different players saw the field for Washington in what turned out to be a display of this team’s depth. And despite being outshot 12-11 by the Terps, the Huskies dominated large stretches of the contest, which proved to be the difference.
“We have such a hard opening schedule on the road that getting our home victory was just vital, because you never know what’s going to happen on the road,” head coach Jamie Clark said. “People don’t quite realize that on the east coast, Maryland’s the toughest out there is. They never quit, they fight, they compete, and they’ve got really good players. So to do that in our opener was a pretty complete performance.”
One of the surprises in the UW’s starting lineup was the insertion of redshirt freshman Noah Whitman. Whitman, who is listed on the roster as a defender, was moved to forward in the spring due to his blazing speed. He started both halves, but was subbed out intermittently throughout the game. Despite his spotty performance at times, Clark has faith that Whitman can be a huge help for the Huskies this year.
“He was a third string guy coming into camp and we picked up a couple injuries, hand, foot, and mouth for a couple guys,” Clark said. “And all of a sudden it’s just like an inter-squad, we said ‘Well, you’re gonna play up front.’ We’ve used him there so we knew he could do it, and he’s run with this opportunity. He’s fun to watch, and you know what? He’s going to score some goals.”
The game was a struggle through the first 20 minutes, as Maryland was asserting itself as the more physical team in the middle third. Only four shots were attempted in this first segment of the game, but many words were exchanged between the two teams.
Then the Huskies started to take more control in possession. Redshirt senior forward Scott Menzies had one of the first legitimate scoring opportunities of the game in the 23rd minute, when he sent a hard header from the right side towards goal, but redshirt junior goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair was right there to catch the threatening ball.
Eight minutes later, Menzies, the UW’s second-leading scorer from last season notched the team’s first goal of the season. Redshirt junior forward Joey Parish came down the middle of the field and fired a shot right at St. Clair. The keeper dove to successfully save the shot, but the ball bounced in Menzies’ direction, and he easily tapped it in for the score.
The Huskies continued to attack the goal quickly in the immediate aftermath. Parish and redshirt senior midfielder Luke Hauswirth got off back to back shots in the box that were easily taken care of by St. Clair, preventing the UW from doubling up the lead.
But with the help of Parish once again, Washington did in fact double its advantage in the 37th minute. Parish was working a defender down the left side, and when he looked into the box he roped a pass into redshirt senior forward Kyle Coffee, who was open on the other side of goal. Coffee, who was subbed in in the 22nd minute, easily put it away.
“Joey’s fantastic, and Joey up until yesterday was supposed to play up front and we just made a last-minute arrangement,” Clark said. “Joey has the most utility on the field, and wherever you play him he finds a way to impact [the game], which is so cool, that you can play him anywhere and he can just figure it out. If he was up front, I guarantee you he would have found the back of the net.”
By the time halftime hit, the UW had a commanding 9-2 lead in the shot department, and managed to completely stifle the Maryland offense.
The second half started off in the same fashion as the first, with both teams struggling to find any legitimate shots. Maryland’s junior defender Donovan Pines put a scare into the crowd in the 55th minute when he sent a hard header into the top left corner of the goal. Fortunately, redshirt junior goalkeeper Saif Kerawala was right there and used his long reach to send the ball away from goal and preserve the shutout.
As the second half wore on, Washington’s offense ran dry, and Maryland’s offense continued to try to find chances. The Terps outshot the Huskies 8-2 through the first 35 minutes of the second half, and spent a lot of time in front of Kerawala’s goal.
In the 77th minute, the Maryland offense worked the ball into box, and found senior forward DJ Reeves staring at a golden opportunity. He rifled a shot at goal but it sailed just over the crossbar and out of bounds. A minute later, freshman forward Justin Gielen launched another hard header at Washington’s goal, but Kerawala once again came through to save the shot in what was an excellent game for him.
The Huskies rode out the rest of the second half relatively unchallenged, and coasted home for the win.
The UW will get a few days off before facing off against New Mexico on Monday. That game will begin at 6 p.m.
Reach reporter Chris Angkico at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @chrisangkico