PALO ALTO, Calif. — For most of the game, Blake Bodily’s crosses weren’t finding anyone.
“Not connecting with people is just part of the game,” he said. “Most of the crosses you play won’t connect with people.”
Leading the line for the No. 7 Washington men’s soccer team against No. 2 Stanford late in the game tied at 1-1, Bodily had been the Huskies’ primary threat for the end of the second half and the first overtime period. But with the Dawgs sitting back and playing on the counter, he was often alone, or had to pick his strike partner out against four Cardinal defenders.
Then, in the 105th minute, he got one.
“When I finally connected with Lucas [Meek], it was just like Hallelujah.” Bodily said.
With the Huskies pressing for the game winning goal halfway through the second overtime period, redshirt sophomore Meek picked the ball up near midfield and played a through ball down the right side to Bodily.
The UW striker picked the ball up and drove towards the byline before cutting in to his favored left foot. He then floated a pass across the face of goal, just over the head of leaping Washington substitute Ryan Sailor. Instead, it found the head of Meek who had continued his run from midfield. Fully extended, the Mercer Island native dove in and headed home from inside the six yard box to give Washington the 2-1 upset win over Stanford.
“As soon as I played it out there, I found my way into the box and really just trusted Blake was going to put that one in there,” Meek said. “Lucky enough, it landed right at the back post where I was, and I gave it everything I had.”
The win on Thursday night keeps the Huskies (9-1, 3-0 Pac-12) in first place on nine points in the standings and deals the Cardinal (7-1-1, 1-1-0 Pac-12) its first loss of the year. It’s the first time since an overtime win in 2016 that Washington has beaten Stanford.
“It’s always a super close game,” head coach Jamie Clark said. “We felt we were hard done at our place last year and they’ll probably feel the same way this year. I think there’s only been one two goal game between us in the last five years.”
The Huskies struck first in the 15th minute when a long ball from left back Charlie Ostrem just inside the Stanford half found senior Jaret Townsend cutting towards the back post. The winger managed to get a foot to the ball, but struck the crossbar. However, the rebound set up perfectly for sophomore striker Gio Miglietti, who lashed the ball low into the corner to put Washington up 1-0 with his third goal of the season.
Miglietti was one of four players who found themselves stepping up on Thursday as he replaced the team’s leading scorer, sophomore Dylan Teves, who was out with a knee injury. The Huskies also gave extended minutes to junior James Smith for the suspended freshman Imanol Rosales and redshirt senior Joey Parish for Bodily, who tweaked his shoulder against Portland. Townsend took Miglietti’s spot in midfield.
“I couldn’t be more happy for Gio,” Meek said. “He’s a great player and I’m so happy he got his third goal of the season because he completely deserves it.”
And even with all the changes, Huskies didn’t looked out of place against the reigning Pac-12 champions. The double pivot of Christian Soto and John Magnus clogged the midfield, forcing Stanford to hit long balls, and the center back pairing of Freddy Kleemann and Ethan Bartlow dealt with every through ball they faced.
But the Huskies almost gave the game away. Stanford pressed hard as soon as the whistle blew to start the second half and after redshirt sophomore Zach Ryan slalomed past the Washington defense on a breakaway, he curled a stunning left-footed shot into the top corner from the top of the box.
From there, the game got chippy, with the teams combining for 24 fouls and six yellow cards including a strange situation where Washington believed the referee gave a card to the wrong Stanford player, when another should have been booked for the second time to put the Cardinal down to 10 men. Soto and Townsend also missed sitters that could have sealed the game in regulation.
It wouldn’t matter though, as the Huskies held on long enough to force overtime and see out the win against one of the best teams in the country.
“Stanford versus UW, that’s two top teams right now,” Meek said. “It meant the world to win that game in the end and we couldn’t be more excited.”
The Huskies will continue Pac-12 play on Sunday when they take on California.
Reach Bay Area Correspondent Andy Yamashita at email@example.com. Twitter: @ANYamashita
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