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Huskies make NCAA tournament for first time in four years

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Huskies make NCAA tournament for first time in four years

Kennedy Smith and Summer Yates embrace after Smith's second half goal during Washington’s 2-1 win over Oregon at Husky Soccer Stadium on Sept. 27, 2019.

The Washington women’s soccer team was selected for the 2019 NCAA tournament on Monday and is set to face off against Seattle U. The Huskies (11-6-2, 7-4 Pac-12) were given a 4-seed in their bracket.

“The biggest thing for us is just to 100% not take this game for granted because we’re a seed, and we’ve just made it through Pac-12’s as a third-place team,” head coach Lesle Gallimore said. “We have to play the game on the day against a team that’s gonna be fired up to come over here and play us.”

The rest of the bracket includes No. 1-seeded Florida State and No. 2-seeded UCLA. Should Washington win its first match, it would then head to Florida State, who will host both the second and third rounds of the tournament.

The Redhawks (12-7-2, 6-1-1 WAC) and Washington have already faced off in the UW's second game of the season; it ended in a 0-0 draw. The Huskies outshot the Redhawks 16-4 in the game, and even had a penalty kick, which was saved in the 50th minute.

“It was the usual tight game we typically have on the books come out on the upper hand, on the better end in it with results,” Gallimore said. “It was one of those games we were disappointed with the draw, but it’s tournament time now, that all goes bye-bye, anything that’s happened in the past, that doesn’t matter.”

The Redhawks are riding a four-game winning streak and were the winners of the WAC tournament.

Coming into the season, this was always the primary goal of this team, it wanted to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2015.

There were certainly some stumbles along the way, but following a 2-0 loss at Texas, Washington really turned things around. The next game featured a 3-1 win on the road to a TCU team that was ranked No. 17 at the time.

“I think the players finally decided ‘Wow, we’re good, we’re good enough to beat anybody that we play against,’” Gallimore said.

Then, throughout Pac-12 play, Washington took down No. 20 California, No. 25 Arizona, No. 7 USC, and capped it all off by beating No. 24 Washington State for the first time since 2003.

Those impressive wins helped soften the blow of a couple home losses late in the season to Colorado and Utah, which sat toward the bottom of the Pac-12 standings. The Huskies found themselves either in or right outside of the top-25 for most of the back half of the season, so this selection wasn’t a big surprise.

Since the last time the Huskies made the tournament was 2015, no players on this year’s team have played in a postseason game. Redshirt seniors Taylor Sekyra and Jessica Udovich were on the roster, but did not play in 2015, when Washington lost 2-1 at Texas A&M.

“I remember what it felt like to go down there and go as a team, and that really cool, I wanted to do that [again] before I left the place,” Sekyra said. “I don’t really remember too much to be honest with you, as far as how the game went, unfortunately we lost in the first round, but that’s not really how it’s gonna be this time, so I’m looking forward to kind of resetting history.”

Game date and time to be announced, but it will take place this Saturday or Sunday.

Correction: this article once stated that UW would host the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament, but now reflects that UW is hosting the first round, and would travel to Tallahassee, Florida, if it wins. The Daily regrets this error. 

Reach reporter Josh Eddy at Twitter: @JoshTreEddy

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