The NCAA tournament selection show came and went on Monday for the Washington men’s soccer team.
Riding the high of the last two wins of the season, the UW felt confident that its name would get called. Surprisingly, it didn’t. On a day when head coach Dean Wurzberger expected to be practicing for a playoff match, he found himself writing an e-mail to his senior class, thanking them for their effort and leadership throughout their time at the UW.
“It’s not a great feeling,” Wurzberger said. “[The season] ended way too soon for a team like this, that kind of went down the stretch with must-win scenarios, and [the team] met almost all of them.”
Winning 11 games this season, the Huskies had a six-win improvement from 2009. Not reaching the playoffs stings, but it doesn’t take away from the impressive finish the Huskies had.
Wurzberger can also find solace in looking at the big wins that kept the Huskies’ playoff hopes alive late in the season as the games to remember.
“Those must-win scenarios coming down the stretch, those will be our playoff games in our minds,” he said. “Sort of the official memories we can take away from the season.”
Playing in the Pac-10 and finishing the season 44th in RPI, on paper the UW was as qualified as many of the teams that received at-large bids. Nevertheless, the committee left the Huskies out.
“It just makes you scratch your head sometimes, with the political process of these selections,” Wurzberger said. “It doesn’t tarnish and it doesn’t diminish what has been a fantastic year. I’m really proud of this team.”
His pride stems from the turnaround that the Huskies were able to make from last season, and the leadership of the seniors. Wurzberger said that not getting picked for the tournament wasn’t something that the seniors took lightly.
With such an anticlimactic finish to an exciting season, the senior class will end its UW career in disbelief.
“[The seniors] were devastated,” he said. “As you’d expect, they couldn’t believe it. It looked like we were in a good position to be selected and we weren’t, so it was a surprise.”
In the end, the positives of the season outweigh the fact that it came to a halt too early.
“It was a magnificent season,” Wurzberger said. “All the highs we had, the special moments, it was truly remarkable. So I’ll always remember it as kind of a breakthrough year from our worst season in 2009, and what a turnaround it was.”
Reach reporter Pete Treperinas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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