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Huskies complete season sweep of Cal in road victory

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Forward Scott Menzies heads the ball during the Huskies’ 3-2 loss against Stanford. Menzies scored the game-winning goal as the Dawgs took down Cal 2-1.

The Washington men’s soccer team has reached a critical point in its season. With just six games to go in the season heading into Thursday’s game against Cal, every win counts in trying to chase the frontrunners of the Pac-12. Fortunately for the Huskies (8-6-0, 3-3-0 Pac-12), they got yet another win against the Bears (5-7-2, 1-5-0 Pac-12) this season in a 2-1 victory, and find themselves with three more points in the standings.

The defense played phenomenally with two fresh faces in the starting lineup (redshirt junior midfielder Ryan Degroot, redshirt freshman defender Freddy Kleeman) and allowed Cal only six shot opportunities all game. Meanwhile, the offense was quick off the ball and fired eight shots on goal at Cal keeper Noah Texter, keeping the pressure on.

Washington dominated the opening half on the stat sheet in signature UW fashion. While Cal was trying to do its business by controlling possession in midfield and waiting patiently for the right look, the Dawgs wasted no time getting on the counterattack once they took the ball away.

This approach helped the Huskies get on the board first in the 20th minute. After a turnover, the ball quickly went to freshman forward Dylan Teves, who was making a run down the center of the pitch. Teves raced toward goal with the ball until he got just outside of the box, when he found freshman defender Charlie Ostrem making a run at the net to his left. He got the ball to Ostrem, and Ostrem did the rest, sliding in for the finish and scoring the first goal of his college career.

It was yet another highlight for Teves, who continues to be sensational as the starter up top.

Although the team wasn’t able to add another goal to its total before the end of the half, Washington’s strategy worked. The Huskies outshot the Bears 10-2 and were extremely aggressive in the final third. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Bryce Logan, who made his second start of the year in relief of the injured Saif Kerawala, had minimal work in the half as a result of his offense’s relentless attitude.

The start of the second half was more of the same. After Cal launched the first shot a minute and change in, Washington attempted the next five shots within a 10-minute span.

In the 61st minute, the fifth of those five shots found the back of the net via the classic Kyle Coffee-Scott Menzies one-two punch. Coffee controlled the ball down the left sideline and found an opportunity to cross the ball into Menzies in the box. Menzies barely got his head to the ball, but deftly flicked it to the back post, baffling the Cal keeper as it crossed the white line and giving the Huskies a two-goal lead.

The Bears wasted no time cutting the lead back down to one in the 65th minute, as they came out with a renewed energy right after the goal. Cal got a cross into the box, and redshirt freshman forward Alonzo Del Mundo got first crack at goal with a diving header. It didn’t pan out, but the ball bounced to senior midfielder Shinya Kadono, who fired a shot past Logan for the Cal goal. Logan still got his hand on it, but it wasn’t enough.

Cal pushed hard for the tying goal late in the game, and almost got the chance they needed in the 89th minute. Kadono found himself up against the Washington defense once again, and in a desperate move, he dove in the box to draw a foul against Degroot.

Degroot was irate when play stopped, thinking the foul was on him, but the referee came up to Kadono and awarded him the yellow card, salting away his team’s chances to play yet another overtime game with Washington this year.

The UW will look to continue its momentum against Stanford this Sunday, in a game that means everything for its Pac-12 title and tournament chances going into the home stretch of the season.

Reach reporter Chris Angkico at Twitter: @chrisangkico

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