It was going to be the same old story for the Washington men’s soccer team. They dominated every statistical category and controlled possession and pace of play for almost the entire game, but for the first 103 minutes, the Huskies could not find the goal that would separate themselves from Cal.
Then, in the 104th minute, Washington got the stroke of good fortune it needed, as Scott Menzies’ penalty kick gave the Huskies (7-5-0, 2-2-0 Pac-12) a 1-0 win.
First, junior midfielder Jaret Townsend used his speed to dribble through the middle of the defense into the box. Once there, a defender tripped Townsend up by his calf and forced him down to the ground drawing a penalty kick.
Menzies came into the kick and the game at large in a slump. After starting the season with four goals in the first four games, he had gone seven games without finding the back of the net. But in his moment to shine against Cal’s Noah Texter, who had made 10 saves in the game, he calmly fired a shot into the bottom right corner of the goal while Texter guessed left. The goal sent everyone on the Washington bench into a frenzy, and they were quick to mob the hero of the game.
“You become nervous in these games because you’ve done everything but win it,” head coach Jamie Clark said. “But the players are braver than me and they’re on the field, and it takes a couple brave guys to get it done.”
Thursday night’s overtime win was the team’s first since October 30, 2016, and it was much needed going into a critical point in Pac-12 play.
Although the winning goal was euphoric for the Huskies, the road to get there was tough against the Golden Bears (5-5-2, 1-3-0 Pac-12). In addition to the frustration mounting from not converting on any of its first 18 shots, Washington saw two of its most valuable players as of late go down in quick succession. First, freshman forward Dylan Teves was brought down hard by a Cal defender in the 59th minute. Despite initially pulling a red card, the referee switched the call to just a caution, much to the dismay of the coaching staff as they saw Teves writhe on the ground in pain.
A few minutes later, redshirt junior keeper Saif Kerawala went down. Kerawala, who made a crucial save on a shot by senior midfielder Shinya Kadono in the 31st minute, got drilled in the leg and kneed in the throat simultaneously, leaving him in a visible daze. After trying to gut it out for a few minutes, he was pulled and replaced with redshirt sophomore Bryce Logan. Logan made his first career start against California last year in a shutout, and he performed well once again in Kerawala’s absence.
In the 100th minute, Logan made a dexterous save of his own on another threatening shot from Kadono, extending and diving on the ball, stopping it in its tracks.
“Bryce has been nipping at Saif’s heels for a while now, and deserves a shot,” Clark said. “The way we look at it now is we have two starters and we can’t have two starters. Just that little bit of bravery shows that he’s ready for the spotlight, which he’ll get again on Sunday.”
This win may just provide the spark the team needs going into its most crucial game of the year, and we’ll see if Washington can change the outlook of its season Sunday at 3 p.m.
Reach reporter Chris Angkico at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @chrisangkico