SEATTLE, WA – (GoHuskies.com) No. 10 Washington (3-1-0) bounced back from its only loss of the season with a big win over Connecticut (1-3-0), 3-1. The Dawgs fell behind early, but battled back for a commanding win over one of the top programs in the country. (Video highlights here.)
The Huskies dropped an uncharacteristic game last week to Saint Mary’s, blowing an early lead. That made things tense on Friday as the Dawgs looked to avoid losing two straight against the top team on its non-conference schedule.
The Huskies responded, however, outplaying UConn to earn what turned out to be a relatively comfortable victory.
“It was a good test,” said head coach Jamie Clark. “We wanted to see we could boss a game against a good team. I thought for large portions of the game we did that. That was the proving point, to say — can we play an up-tempo possession game against a good team — and it looks like we can.”
It didn’t start well for the Dawgs as UConn took a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute. Washington turned it over in their defensive third and Connecticut striker Cyle Larin pounced on the loose ball and scored from point-blank range.
The goal seemed to wake up Washington who was off to a sluggish start.
“In a funny way that goal kick started us,” said Clark. “Sometimes when you give up a goal, you have nothing to lose and start playing. It freed our guys up. At the time it didn’t feel good, but it turned out to be great for our team.”
The Dawgs began to settle into their game, controlling possession and building offensive chances out of the back. The equalizer came quickly as Mason Robertson had a great individual effort for the goal. He collected a ball off a UConn miscue on the left side and carried his dribble into the middle. Robertson then unleashed a powerful shot, while holding off a defender that UConn goalkeeper Jacob Wagmeister had no chance to save.
Robertson wasn’t done, however, as he would give the Dawgs the lead in the 23rd minute. This time, Cristian Roldan got free on the left side and chipped a ball to the back post where Robertson banged in a header. The goals were the second and third of the season for Robertson, while it was Roldan’s second assist.
“Mason was unbelievable, goals aside,” said Clark. “His target play, winning balls, bringing balls in. They didn’t have any answers for he and Darwin.”
The Dawgs took the 2-1 lead to the half as they continued to look like the sharper team after the rough opening minutes.
After the break, Washington really took control of the game and it was Josh Heard that gave the Dawgs the two-goal lead. Darwin Jones provided service from the left corner as Heard rose above the defense for a spectacular header. The goal was Heard’s third of the season, tying Jones and Robertson for the team lead.
Jones picked up his third assist and although he did not score, was a handful up front for UConn. His continuous runs through the Connecticut defense proved to be too much for the East Coast version of the Huskies.
Aside from the early mishap that led to the UConn goal, the Husky defense played perhaps its most complete game. The center back duo of Michael Gallagher and Justin Schmidt controlled the Connecticut attack, while orchestrating the UW offense with precise passing from the back.
Spencer Richey picked up his second win of the season, making two saves. It had to an especially satisfying victory for the fifth-year senior who broke his leg against Connecticut last season, almost exactly a year to the day earlier.
The Dawgs will be right back at it on Sunday as Pennsylvania visits Husky Soccer Field. Game time is set for 1 p.m. for a webcast only game as Washington looks to avoid a letdown after Friday’s big win.