Hitting the road for the first time this season, the No. 3 Washington men’s soccer team needed all the time it could get to handle business against Utah Valley.
Knotted at 1-1 in overtime, Washington took a pivotal free kick and the ball found senior defender Ryan Sailor who guided the ball into the back of the net with a looping header to give the UW a 2-1 victory. The UW center back, who provided a goal threat for the Huskies (5-0, 0-0 Pac-12) in big moments in the spring season, was on the scoresheet for the first time this campaign on Thursday night.
It was end-to-end action in the first half, with the Huskies striking first in the 19th minute. After winning a penalty, the Huskies converted the opening goal from redshirt freshman Gabe Threadgold, who followed up an initially saved penalty kick.
The goal came just minutes after Sailor committed a last-ditch challenge which brought down a Wolverine attacker who was through on goal. Despite the appeals for a red card from the Utah Valley players, the UW defender was only shown a caution.
Despite being favorites, the Huskies were on the back foot for much of the first half, with only 40% possession in the opening period. The Wolverines (3-1-3, 0-0 WAC) settled into the match nicely, converting their possession into chances, and eventually the equalizing goal in the 28th minute.
Utah Valley got a penalty of its own which was cooly converted by Diego Castillo, who chipped the ball down the middle, sending the ball into the net past a diving attempt from goalkeeper Sam Fowler. The goal was the first conceded by Washington since its season-opener, after keeping three consecutive clean sheets.
The Huskies created a flurry of chances before the full-time whistle but weren’t able to break down the Wolverine defense. Sophomore forward Dylan Teves came close with a scorching effort from outside the box which required a quick reaction from the Utah Valley keeper to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Utah Valley managed to frustrate Washington’s rhythm, keeping the ball well and forcing four saves out of Fowler, including an impressive dive to deny a Wolverine header. Utah Valley went toe to toe with the UW, matching the shot total of 14 on the night.
The Wolverines, coached by former USMNT player Kyle Beckerman, had not lost this season prior to Thursday’s match, giving the Huskies their toughest test of the season to date.
Washington is back in action on Monday, Sept. 20 on tha road for the WAC/101 Club Cup against crosstown rivals Seattle U.
Reach reporter Luka Kučan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @luka_kucan
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