PORTLAND – (GoHuskies.com) UW women’s soccer (6-1-0) continued its hot start to the 2015 season, as the Huskies beat UC Irvine (3-4-1) 2-0 behind goals from Shannon Simon and Rachel Wheeler. With the shutout, senior goalkeeper Megan Kufeld now has 19 career shutouts to give her the most all-time in program history.
“We just talk about taking it one game at a time,” UW head coach Lesle Gallimore said. “I know people get tired of hearing about that, but that really is the approach we take. We’re grateful it wasn’t quite as hot today and I’m pleased that we did what we needed to do to get the result. As for Megan, she has been solid her whole career. She’ll be the first one to tell you that her performance is a testament to the players playing in front of her. But her leadership skills have really grown, her presence and confidence in the box, and just her abilities as a goal keeper have improved throughout her time here.”
Watch the full match replay below.
The clean sheet was Kufeld’s third of the season. She had nine in 2014 and seven in 2013, each top-10 single season totals in program history. Kufeld tied Hope Solo for the top spot with her 18th shutout against Michigan on Sunday, Sep. 6. She is also No. 4 all-time in career saves and currently holds the top spot in career goals against average.
“It’s really an honor to be in such great company with the best goalkeeper in the world, Hope Solo,” Kufeld said. “I give credit to the coaching staff that has helped me grow and the great group of players in front of me over the last three years. This is a really cool accomplishment for me.”
Simon scored her third goal in the last two games just five minutes into the match, taking a brilliant through ball from forward Rachel Wheeler that gave Simon a one-on-one matchup against UC Irvine keeper Corey Tobin near the top of the box.
“Rachel had the ball, turned and ran at the defense, then played a ball that set me up perfectly,” Simon said. “It was another great chance that was set up by our game plan and great execution from Rachel.”
Simon took a touch before shooting, then slotted home her fourth of the season to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead. Simon now all of her team-leading four goal in her last four games. She also leads the team with three assists and 29 shots.
“Rachel’s ball to Shannon was unreal,” Gallimore said. “It was great to get on the board early and that goal came from great execution of our game plan. We found some gaps and took advantage.”
Throughout the rest of the half, each team had its share of opportunities, but the score remained 1-0 after 45 minutes.
Wheeler was later on the receiving end of a beautiful set up in the 68th minute, as freshman Kelcie Hedge led a counter attack and found Wheeler alone on the left side of the box, where she took a left-footed shot that beat Tobin into the right corner of the net to extend the Huskies’ advantage to 2-0. It was Wheeler’s second goal of the season, third of her career, and Hedge’s second assist of the season.
“I knew Kelcie would draw players and I needed to be ready to finish,” Wheeler said. “She played me a perfect ball into space, I just didn’t think and shot the ball.”
Led by senior center backs McKenzie Karas and Allyson Brahs, the Husky defense allowed just two shots in the second half and just six overall. Simon and midfielderAmanda Perez led a Husky attack that finished with 10 shots with two shots apiece.
Up next for UW, the Huskies will host Portland in Seattle on Thursday, Sep. 17, at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed live. UW will conclude non-conference play at Gonzaga on Sunday, Sep. 20, at 1 p.m.