The No. 6 Washington men’s soccer team, after two comfortable victories against Boston College and No. 11 Marshall, has reached the Elite Eight for the second time in program history and is looking to do something it has never done before: stamp its ticket to the College Cup.
“If you win games and get results, people start to pay attention and that’s what it’s been about,” head coach Jamie Clark said. “The fun part about this year is we have been able to gain relevancy in the Seattle sports market through winning.”
The Huskies (17-3, 8-2 Pac-12) have been fairly dominant in the postseason thus far, scoring six goals and allowing only one in their two home playoff matches. After two weeks at home, they will now travel to Washington D.C. to face No. 3 Georgetown (17-1-3, 7-0-2 Big East) in a first-time-ever matchup between the two programs.
“The most important thing for us is to get off to confident starts and ruin confidence for the other team as the game goes on,” Clark said. “When you play against unknown foes, quick starts can help grow the belief in the team and set the tone early on.”
They will face their toughest challenge of the season when they go against the Hoyas because, as impressive as the Huskies have looked in the NCAA tournament up to this point, the Hoyas have posted staggering results to start off their postseason campaign. They recorded a 5-0 shutout against Pitt in the second round and avenged their only loss of the season with a 5-1 victory over Louisville in the third round.
“I still think our finishing has to better because Georgetown has scored five goals in both of their games and we should have scored five in both our games,” Clark said. “We have to be more clinical in our finishing and more ruthless with our chances, but we also can’t give them chances in transition by being careless with the ball because that’s how they score their early goals and punish teams.”
Despite having a better away record (8-1) compared to its home record (7-2) in the regular season, the UW has completely dominated teams at Husky Soccer Stadium, outscoring its opponents 28-6 at home compared to 16-5 away from home. Despite the statistics, Clark believes his team plays better on the road than they do at home.
“I like going on the road because we’ve lost one game on the road all year and it narrows the focus of our team,” Clark said. “There’s no outside distractions since it’s all soccer all the time for a couple of days and that’s a good recipe for success.”
The Elite Eight matchup between Washington and Georgetown will be Saturday, with kickoff at 9 a.m. The winner will advance to the 2019 College Cup at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.
“The early kickoff time is a little tricky to deal with in terms of preparation but the main thing we have to do is limit Georgetown’s offense and make it a tight game,” Clark said. “Crazy enough, neither of us have played in a tight game in a few weeks and it’s a question of who can hold their nerves in a tight situation. We believe this one is going to be a close one and we just have to trust that it’s going to go our way in the long run.”
Reach reporter Le Bui at email@example.com. Twitter: @LeBui18
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