The Washington women’s soccer team’s defense held strong, but miscommunication late in the second half created the crucial opportunity No. 7 Florida needed late in a 2-1 loss for the Huskies to open the season.

Goalkeeper Siena Ruelas couldn’t secure a rolling ball in the 77th minute, and defender Jessica Udovich didn’t manage to clear it, leading to an open net and an easy goal for Florida’s Madison Alexander.

“That last goal to win it was just a bad miscommunication, a little lack of discipline on our part to get drug out of the middle and leave that space for them” head coach Lesle Gallimore said.

It was an unfortunate end to an otherwise good opener for the UW defense, which allowed only six shots in the first half and held the Gators scoreless.

Florida found its way through the Washington defense in the second half, sending nine shots Washington’s way and  scoring both of its goals.

“We knew Florida would be a good attacking team coming in, and we weathered the storm a bit,” Gallimore said.

One of the major questions going into the season was who would start at keeper for the Huskies after the departure of Sarah Shimer last season. That question was quickly answered today as Junior Siena Ruelas rose to the occasion.

Ruelas recorded seven saves in her 90 minutes played and only let in two goals.

The Washington offense opened the scoring, as freshman Ruby Hellstrom found the back of the net for her first collegiate goal in the 35th minute, and the UW carried a 1-0 lead into halftime.

Hellstrom was one of three freshmen to see time on the field today.

“Some of our young kids really got a feel for what top-level college soccer is like,” Gallimore said. “And some of our less experienced players really got a good feel for it, so it's a great place to start and build on.”

The inexperience showed at times for the UW attack, as it was only able to get 11 shots, with five being on target. Five offside calls against the Huskies also plagued their scoring opportunities.  

“I thought we were a little panicky on the ball to get into a rhythm, when we did win the ball back,” Gallimore said.

After a strong showing to a highly-ranked Florida team, Washington will get a week off before its home opener against Cal State Fullerton next Friday at 5 p.m.

Reach contributing writer Josh Eddy at Twitter: @JoshTreEddy

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