The second-most important soccer match in Seattle on Sunday did not end quite so well for this local squad.
The Washington men, the nation’s top-ranked team the past three weeks, could not crack a stout Stanford defense and fell 1-0 to the fifth-ranked Cardinal in front of 1,462 spectators at Husky Soccer Stadium.
The Huskies (14-3, 7-2 Pac-12) were aiming to clinch their first conference title since 2013, and do so by defeating the program that has won the past five Pac-12 crowns. UW, though, could not overcome a deflected goal in the 41st minute by Gabe Segal off a hard cross from the left wing by Ousseni Bouda.
Washington, which before Thursday had lost only once in its previous 20 matches dating back to last season, came into its final two home games on a 10-match winning streak and 7-0-0 mark at home.
Yet UW was upset Thursday 3-2 by unranked California and then could not solve a Stanford squad it had beaten 2-1 on the road Oct. 3. That is the only defeat this season for Stanford (13-1-3, 6-1-2 Pac-12), which won three consecutive national titles from 2015 to 2017.
Washington coach Jamie Clark is not discouraged.
“It’s a blip weekend,” he said. “If we manage to rebound and learn from this, I think we’re capable of a pretty special season.
“Every game of soccer is in the balance,” he said. “You watch the Sounders game. The Sounders didn’t touch the ball for 60 minutes, and they end up winning the MLS championship.
“It’s moments. What did they (the Sounders) do? They scored a deflected goal that’s an own goal. If they don’t score that, they probably don’t win the MLS title.
“Our game more than any game is in the balance, and you’ve got to find a way to make moments happen.”
Is Clark confident the Huskies can make those kinds of moments as the postseason nears?
“We’ve done it all year,” he said. “Even on Thursday (against Cal) I thought we were very good. Today, we were good for a half, but we put ourselves in a hole in the first half.”
The Huskies were outshot 10-5 in the first half but did not allow a shot in the second while putting up seven of their own, finishing the match with a 12-10 edge.
A free kick from near the northeast corner by Imanol Rosales grazed the crossbar late in the first half, and in the 62nd minute a cross by leading scorer Blake Bodily set up midfielder Jaret Townsend for a quick header that went barely wide left.
“Everyone was really excited for this game,” said sophomore midfielder Lucas Meek, a Mercer Island High grad and UW’s No. 2 scorer. “Everyone thought we had the right mindset, and I think we did. We didn’t come out as ready and as fiery as they did, and they punished us for that. The second half, we came out and gave it everything we had, and the chances just weren’t falling. It was just one of those days when we couldn’t find the net.”
Washington can still claim the Pac-12 title with a victory in its final regular-season match at Oregon State on Friday.
“We still control our destiny,” Clark said. “We still stand in first place. Over the weekend, it’s disappointing. Over the entirety (of the season), we’re exactly where we want to be. We were having a fairy tale season for a while there, and we’ll learn from these two games.”