Opening Pac-12 play at Husky Soccer Stadium, the Washington women’s soccer team entered conference play with no soft landing, taking on No. 15 Arizona State.
Sloppy play in the first half from the Huskies gave the Sun Devils an early lead, but two-second half goals were enough for the UW to earn its first point of the season against a Top 25 team.
“To go down 2-0 after we played very well was hard,” head coach Nicole Van Dyke said. “But we got to halftime and they responded well. There were a lot of portions of the game where we were the better team and had better opportunities — that's a testament to these girls because they got a little bit more organized.”
From the first kick of the match, the Huskies were on the forefront, creating a shot on goal within the opening minute. But after dominating the first 15 minutes of the match with possession and opportunities, a single mistake cost the Huskies’ (2-4-2) momentum.
Following an extended spell of pressure up to minute 16, the Huskies were caught on the counter as a through ball from junior Sun Devil (8-1-1) defender Kiki Stewart found its way past the outstretched leg of redshirt senior Jessika Cowart and into the path of ASU's senior forward Nicole Douglas, who finished the opportunity past redshirt senior goalkeeper Olivia Sekany.
The Huskies found it difficult to recover, quickly falling behind in the shot column and finding themselves under mounting pressure to find an equalizer. Sloppy build up gave way to numerous counter attacks for the Sun Devils and they eventually found their payday.
In minute 26 ASU continued to terrorize the Washington backline with Sun Devil senior winger Cori Sullivan repeatedly finding space down the left-hand side. Picking the ball up at the edge of the box, Sullivan drove at Washington right back redshirt sophomore Helena Reischling, forcing an ill-timed tackle which caught Sullivan’s legs, resulting in an ASU penalty.
Douglas stepped up to the spot and slotted the ball into the bottom left corner, adding a second to her goal tally and putting the UW in a two-goal deficit.
Despite positive and advancing build-up play, the Huskies remain unable to get on the scoresheet early. With multiple chances within the first 10 minutes the Huskies easily could have propelled themselves into an early lead, but a lack of a finishing touch continued to plague the side as they found less and less at the face of the goal.
With all their difficulties going forward, the Huskies still found a way.
Cowart atoned for her earlier mistake in minute 66 as she launched a free kick from near midfield into the box and, as it dropped, a deceptive bounce saw the ball end up in the back of the net. The auspicious and strange goal was Cowart’s first of the season and cut the deficit in half.
With a little less than 15 minutes remaining, Washington found its equalizer and clawed its way back to level terms.
Fouled on the edge of the box, senior forward Summer Yates stepped up to take a free kick from a dangerous position outside of the 12-yard spot. And after a cool breath and short run up, Yates netted home the equalizer past the ASU keeper and into the bottom right corner.
“We always want to get on top of things early and score goals early, that’s what we’ve been working on for the past two weeks,” Yates said. “That’s something we’re going to try next game is high pressing and trying to get goals early and keep trying to find the back of the net. Obviously those free kicks work.”
A lack of an imposing front presence seems evident for Washington, as time after time balls played forward are coolly fended off by defenders or roll calmly to the opposition goalkeeper. Though speed remains no question for the Huskies going forward, they continue to find little connection on the ends of corners or crosses into the box.
The Huskies’ found their way back into the match via set pieces and salvaged a meaningful Pac-12 draw in what was quite the match.
Washington looks to build on Friday’s second-half momentum as it hits the road to take on Colorado on Thursday, Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. in Boulder.
Reach reporter Rajan Hans at email@example.com. Twitter: @RajanHans14
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