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Crucial weekend ahead for Washington with one month remaining in season

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Crucial weekend ahead for Washington with one month remaining in season

Olivia Van Der Jagt dribbles the ball as she looks down the field for an open teammate during Washington's game against Portland on Sept. 2 at Husky Soccer Stadium. The UW is looking for its first Pac-12 win this weekend when it hosts Stanford and Cal.

With eight matches left, the Washington women’s soccer team has left itself no room for error. 

After a rueful weekend in the Rockies, the UW returns to Seattle to face two competitive California schools in Cal and No. 14 Stanford. 

The Huskies’ (2-5-3, 0-1-2 Pac-12) offense is in major need of repairs, as match after match the offense fails to capitalize on an abundance of opportunities. Head coach Nicole Van Dyke’s side has managed a minimum of 10 shots in all but two matches this season, but scored multiple goals only once. 

“We’re pretty dialed into the process that we need to get better throughout the week,” Van Dyke said. “That’s with film, that’s with conversations, and just setting goals for that week.”

An average of a single goal a game proves the primary issue. Opponents have averaged 1.5 goals per match against the Huskies, as the UW remain under the weight of a projected loss in the majority of its remaining matches. 

“For us it’s just about managing moments better and continuing to improve on the small-sided stuff in the game,” Van Dyke said. “Being better when we have numbers in front of [the] goal. In the first 15 minutes against Utah we were at the top of their [18-yard box] seven different times. We just want to make sure those are shots and opportunities.”

The Huskies have relied on a singular forward in each of their matches, a system that has seen isolation for the attackers and less cohesive build up play within the box. 

But despite the unique formation, the UW has still seen plenty of chances. Senior midfielder Olivia Van der Jagt thinks that all the Huskies are missing is the final touch.

“The thing is that we’ve created so many opportunities,” Van der Jagt said. “The opportunities are there, it’s just that final touch of finishing those opportunities we create. Once it all comes together it’ll really work for us and help us going into these games this weekend.”

Defensive fortitude has proved an asset for the side. Despite five losses on the season, the Huskies have yet to concede more than two goals in a match since the first match of the season.

The beginning of the Pac-12 season has been unforgiving for Washington, with the side yet to win a match. Cal poses no easy task. The Golden Bears (5-2-3, 1-1-1 Pac-12) are fresh off a 2-1 victory against fellow conference side Oregon State and have victories against Portland and Long Beach, both of whom beat the UW.

Following the Golden Bears, the homestand doesn’t become any easier, with the Cardinal (8-3, 2-1 Pac-12) coming to town. The Huskies face their third ranked opponent of the season as the Cardinal currently sits at fourth in the conference.

The match week kicks off Thursday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m., when Cal comes to Husky Soccer Stadium; on Sunday, Oct. 10, the weekend wraps up against Stanford at noon.

Reach writer Rajan Hans at Twitter: @RajanHans14

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