The Huskies proved they are elite, and now they want more.
The Washington men’s soccer team advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA soccer tournament for the second time in school history with a 4-1 victory over Marshall on Sunday evening at Husky Soccer Stadium.
But with the College Cup, soccer’s version of the Final Four, one step away, the No. 6-seed Huskies are greedy for more.
Standing in the way is No. 3-seed Georgetown (17-1-3), which will play host to the Huskies on Saturday at 9 a.m. Pacific time. Judging by the way the Huskies dominated Marshall, just as they dominated Boston College in the game before, they are ready for the challenge.
“We’re playing some of our best soccer right now, and it comes at a really good time,” said UW coach Jamie Clark, who took the Huskies to the Elite Eight in 2013, the best finish in program history until now.
How dominant was UW on Sunday? At one point late in the second half, it had 19 shots to Marshall’s one. Had it not been for some outstanding saves by Marshall goalkeeper Paulo Pita, who had nine saves overall, the score could have really gotten out of hand.
“It has been strange, because we’ve watched these teams on video and they look really good,” Clark said. “Maybe it was the home-field advantage that we earned, but we made some really, really good teams look not as good on these nights.”
That might be a testament to how good Washington (17-3) is. The Huskies were ranked No. 1 in the country for several weeks before a couple of late-season defeats. They once again are playing like a No. 1 team.
Washington got great production throughout its lineup Sunday, with defender Ethan Bartlow scoring two goals to lead the way. When was the last time Bartlow, the Pac-12 defensive player of the year, scored two goals in a game?
“When I was 10 or 11,” he said.
It was Blake Bodily, the Pac-12 offensive player of the year, who opened the scoring with a goal in the eighth minute.
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Lucas Meek’s corner kick was trapped near the net by John Magnus, who chipped it to Bodily, who did what he has done so often lately: deposit it in the back of the net.
It was Bodily’s team-leading 12th goal of the season and his eighth in the past eight games. It was the sixth time in the past seven games that Meek recorded an assist.
Marshall tied the score on a penalty kick. The Thundering Herd threatened only once in the first half and was rewarded when UW’s Kasey French was called for a penalty in the box in the 24th minute. Washington goalie Sam Fowler guessed wrong on Jamil Roberts’ penalty kick.
But the Huskies were undaunted, coming at Marshall in waves. Washington was finally rewarded in the 43rd minute when a great pass from Joey Parish found Bartlow near the goal, and he rocketed a shot past Pita.
That gave UW a 2-1 lead after a first half in which it put up some remarkably one-sided stats, taking 13 shots to one, and having eight shots on goal to one.
It took just 45 seconds for UW to score in the second half, with Christian Soto getting his first goal of the season. Bartlow finished the scoring with a penalty kick in the 73rd minute after Meek was taken down in the box.
Washington finished with a 23-6 shot advantage and a 13-2 advantage in shots on goal. It was the first time Marshall (15-3-3) lost by more than a goal, and Thundering Herd coach Chris Grassie said the Huskies are the best team it has played, because the Huskies “have a little bit of everything.”
“We’ve seen glimpses the past few weeks how special this team is,” Clark said. “How collectively hard we work together is something special.”
The Huskies will need to be special against Georgetown and they look forward to the challenge.
“We’re super excited for it,” Bodily said. “Getting to the Elite Eight is a big accomplishment, but we want to get to the College Cup.”