The No. 7 Washington Huskies advanced to the men’s soccer Elite Eight for the second consecutive year, using a dominant second half to beat the Missouri State Bears 2-0 on Thursday in Cary, N.C.
Washington (12-3-0) got goals from Lucas Meek and Nick Scardina to pull away and seal the victory.
The Huskies will face No. 2 Pittsburgh (15-3-0) at 10 a.m. PT Monday in Cary, N.C. The Panthers throttled UCF 4-0 in their Sweet 16 match.
This is Washington’s third trip to the Elite Eight in program history and the second year in a row they have made at least the quarterfinals. Washington also advanced to the quarterfinals in 2013. This is also the first time in program history that Washington has won multiple postseason games in back-to-back years.
The Bears (12-2-0) claimed the regular season and tournament Missouri Valley Conference championships while earning their fifth trip to the NCAA tournament where they advanced to the third round for the first time in program history.
“We came out and played the way we wanted to play,” Missouri State associate coach Michael Seabolt said. “Full credit to the Huskies, they battled hard and made things difficult for us. We felt like we left a little bit on the table and were able to do what we wanted to do, just not well enough for long enough.”
Washington (12-3-0) weathered the storm of a persistent Bears attack in the first half before countering with an amped-up offensive effort in the second that led to goals from Meek in the 65th minute and Scardina in the 79th minute.
The Bears went to work from their attacking half for most of the first period to keep the Huskies defense on their toes while putting up five shots.
The Huskies responded in the final 10 minutes before halftime with a couple of corner kicks that resulted in their first shot on the second set-piece entry. Then, a free kick situation produced a UW header that Bears keeper Michael Creek snatched for one of his two saves to cap a scoreless half.
In the 65th minute, a throw-in positioned in the Bears defensive half allowed Kalani Kossa-Rienzi to play a ball into the Bears box as his cross found Meek, who completed the scoring drive with a header that gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
Scardina provided the insurance goal for Washington in the 79th after an initial Huskies shot was denied by Creek, but the UW midfielder was there to collect the rebound for the final score of the Sweet 16 match.
The Bears outshot the Huskies 12-11, but Sam Fowler saved all six shots that came on goal to hold the Bears scoreless for just the second time since 2018.