The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
The Washington Husky Men were ranked in the national top 25 for much of the 2011 season. The school finished second in the Pac-12 with a 12-4-2 record. Then a first season of accomplishment for head coach Jamie Clark came to a jolting halt when the Dawgs were passed over for the NCAA tournament.
“It was unfortunate that a consensus top 25 team at the end of the regular season doesn’t make the NCAA tournament,” Clark told goalWA.net after the 2011 campaign, “but instead of complaining about why we were left out I’d rather focus on the positives of a great season. We have changed our schedule for future years so if we can win 12 games in future seasons I think we will not only make the tournament, but be a seeded team.”
In less than three weeks (August 16) the Dawgs will open play against Simon Fraser University. goalWA.net checked in with Washington head coach Jamie Clark to get a few impressions about the 2012 Huskies. See our Q & A below.
Jamie Clark: We have a great incoming class featuring many of the best incoming players out of the state of Washington. Darwin Jones (Des Moines, WA) is going to come in and have an immediate impact. He’s dynamic and scares defenses, but, most importantly, even with all this talent he is both hard working and still eager to learn. Michael Gallagher (Sammamish), Ian Lange (Burien) and David Gebert (Everett) are three of the top defenders out of Washington. Those three should ensure we continue to be solid in the back for years to come. Our other four recruits are all West Coast players that should be big players for the Huskies at some point. James Moberg is arguably the best midfielder in Northern California. He has the ability to take games over and will be fun to watch. Tyler Miller and Justin Schmidt are both from New Mexico and are both very smart defenders that make good use of the ball. Finally, Josh Heard is a an exciting attacking talent from Victoria Island. He caught our eye when he scored a few goals against the Sounders U-18 academy team. Since then we have tracked him and we think he has a big future here at UW.
What are your specific pre-season / training goals? What’s new this fall in your program?
With two weeks to get ready for your first game, our preseason is more about getting on the same page and sharpening a few little things up. If we expect to be successful in the early part of the season, then all the work is happening over the summer. Our guys are focused and make the most of June and July to come in fit and ready for the season.
What are the challenges / opportunities inherent in your 2012 match schedule?
Every year our conference schedule presents up the opportunity to host some of the biggest names in college athletics. Having UCLA, Stanford and Cal is great for the fans and team alike. We also host Brown University out of the Ivy League who made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament last year. Finally, we head on the road to take on Uconn who will be a consensus top 5 team in the country to start the season. These games should ensure that we have one of the toughest schedules in the country in 2012.
Who are 3-4 players you’ll rely on this season for success?
Dylan Tucker-Gangnes (Bainbridge) and Ben Fisk (Federal Way) are our captains and leaders on this team. They are both great competitors and talented players. These guys have played in a lot of big games over the past three years, so I know they will be the guys we can rely on in the big matches. Abdul Aman is a forward that we hope can score double digit goals for us. He is explosive and has a knack for scoring goals.
Where do you see your program in terms of competing within your conference?
At UW, the expectation is to compete for a national championship in every sport every year. We were a top 25 team for most of last season and we expect to be there again this season. If we put ourselves in this position anything can happen tournament time.
2012 University of Washington Men Schedule