It was the high-level, intense and inspired soccer often displayed in what might be the city’s best college rivalry — the annual matchup between the Washington and Seattle U’s men’s soccer teams.
Tension mounted Monday night in front of a jam-packed 1,377 fans at Seattle U’s Championship Field as the two teams played with passion that felt more like the postseason than a nonconference matchup.
No. 3 Washington was pushed to the limit, but escaped with a 2-1 win when Nick Scardina rifled a shot past Akili Kasim from about 15 yards in the ninth minute of overtime to retain the WAC/101 Cup.
“Half of them grew up playing against each other and they really don’t want to lose,” UW coach Jamie Clark said after the game, noting the passion the teams played with. “They are all tough Seattle kids and they really lay it all out there. I’ve got more respect for Seattle U. I think they are one of the best teams in the country.”
Scardina got a pass from Imanol Rosales in a great spot in overtime, and said he knew it was good from the second his foot touched the ball.
“You just know when you feel that contact with the ball and it fell right into the corner,” Scardina said. “It felt awesome to get the win. It’s a crosstown rivalry and it’s always great when you are playing for a trophy.”
Washington (6-0) scored first in the 52nd minute on its first shot on goal in the game — a header from Kendall Burks after Ryan Sailor headed a pass to him near the goalmouth.
Seattle U goalkeeper Kasim never had a chance. Seattle U amped up its attack in response and drew even in the 73rd minute on a goal from Declan McGlynn.
The Huskies won for the third straight time in the series after Seattle U (4-4) had won the previous two matches (including in the 2017 NCAA tournament).
Neither team scored in the first half, when there were twice as many yellow cards — four — as there were shots on goal (both by Seattle U). The intensity of the match was a testament to how much it meant to both teams.
“It’s the biggest game of the year for us, for sure,” Seattle U coach Peter Fewing said hours before the game. “We know their guys, they know our guys, there is a Cup on the line, so that makes it fun.”
“I think our guys love it,” Clark said beforehand. “I enjoy it with Pete because he is a good man and good for the community.”
It’s a rivalry with respect. The two coaches genuinely like each other and root for the other’s program when they aren’t playing against each other.
It wasn’t just coach talk when Clark said Seattle University would be the toughest opponent the Huskies had faced this season, or when Fewing said UW “is a very organized team with talent all over the place.”
The Huskies made it to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals the past two seasons, losing to Georgetown in 2019 and this past spring to Pittsburgh after the season was delayed for months because of COVID-19.
That left little down time between the loss to Pittsburgh and the start of this season — 3 months and 16 days, to be exact. But the Huskies, who returned their 13 leading players from last year in terms of minutes played, were ready, winning their first five games.
The Huskies have reached the NCAA quarterfinals three times since Clark became UW coach in 2011. Sure, the team would like to become the first in program history to reach the College Cup (the final four), but Clark said the team is not focusing on that.
“It’s about having a good season, really,” Clark said. “I am not one to set hard markers in the sand, just because we know lots of crazy things can happen. But we know if we win more games than we lose and we do a lot of things right, then that gives us a chance to play in those games that others from the outside want to judge you on.
“I would say this team has a chance (to reach the College Cup) — stout on defense with enough guys who can score goals, which gives you an opportunity. The margins are so close, but we believe we have a chance. But realistically, we believe 16 teams will have a chance at it.”
Seattle U has been to the NCAA men’s soccer tournament every other season — winning at least once in the tournament each time — since 2013.
If the trend continues, the Redhawks will be back in the tournament this season.
Seattle U has had a challenging nonconference schedule with its signature win being a 1-0 victory in double overtime over No. 11 Duke (5-1).
“It is a good team and I like them a lot,” Fewing said of his players. “We have talent and depth. We’ve got good attacking players all the way around … and our goalkeeping is really, really good.”
Seattle Sounders midfielders Cristian and Alex Roldan took part in the coin toss before the match. The two brothers had opposite rooting interests during the game, with Cristian having played for Washington and Alex having played for Seattle U.