On an uncharacteristically smoky night in Seattle, the Washington women’s soccer team failed to convert any of its 14 shots, falling 1-0 to Arizona.
Amid the universally recognized poor air quality, questions arose as to whether the match would occur under such conditions. Given the way that UW ultimately played, a cancellation may have been beneficial.
In the first 25 minutes of the match, the Huskies (8-4-3, 2-4-1 Pac-12) put the Wildcats (6-6-2, 3-4 Pac-12) on their heels, opening with a few threatening shots on goal and aggressive defending up top.
First, in the sixth minute, a healthy combination of passes led to a cross for senior Kala McDaniel to strike a side-footed volley on target, but was miraculously stopped by Arizona’s Hope Hisey.
In the following minute, the opposing keeper made another crucial stop, as fifth-year Summer Yates played graduate student McKenzie Weinert in front of the goal, but wasn’t able to capitalize.
Despite setting an early tone with a few real chances to count for, the team wasn’t able to hold the same energy, to the dismay of head coach Nicole Van Dyke.
“In the first 25 minutes of the game, we dictated the tempo,” Van Dyke said. “And for some reason, we let our foot off of the gas.”
As UW slowed its acceleration, Arizona picked up speed and began knocking at the door offensively, also stringing together some chances.
But in the 25th minute, in transition play, a costly miscommunication in the UW defense left Arizona’s Jordan Hall unmarked, as she slipped the ball past graduate student goalkeeper Olivia Sekany into the bottom left corner to take the lead.
Just as the Huskies have endured early deficits before, the crowd rightfully expected an answer to the wake-up call, maybe even a comeback. But with something unusual in the air tonight, the comeback didn’t come to fruition.
“It shows you so much of the game is just about competing, you know, and winning first and second balls,” Van Dyke said. “And so I think that’s where we missed the beat a little bit in the first half, like kind of let them get back in the game.”
Chances still came and went, as the Huskies finished with a commendable 14 shots, three of those being on goal. But conceding an early goal put an unforgiving and suffocating pressure on the offense to perform, leaving no room for error.
“There were a lot of moments where we were the better team tonight, and I’m sure our girls feel that,” Van Dyke said. “But again, you have to put one in the back of the net and you can’t concede.”
As UW moves into its final stretch of matches, getting back into the 2022 season's early theme of scoring will be of the utmost importance, as the team remains focused on qualifying for the NCAA tournament.
But first rests the next opponent and an opportunity to bounce back from tonight, as UW faces Arizona State on Sunday, Oct. 23, at noon at Husky Soccer Stadium.
“Regardless of what happened the game before, it’s all about the next game, so we want to make sure we are bringing our best on Sunday,” Van Dyke said. “And we will do that.”
Reach reporter John Rudnicki email@example.com. Twitter: @johnrudnicki02
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