Senior captains Kari Davidson and Faustine Dufka can’t quite find the words.
They’re not sure what to say about the confidence of their Washington women’s soccer team right now. Not sure what to say about how much the UW’s belief has dwindled since going 2-6-2 after a 7-0 start or how much the recent skid has affected the team’s psyche.
After helping the U.S. women’s soccer team to a 2-2 draw against Germany on Tuesday during the team’s fan tribute tour, former UW goalkeeper and current U.S. starter Hope Solo will celebrate homecoming a couple days early at today’s game against Oregon.
Solo will be signing her new book, “Solo: A Memoir of Hope,” before the game on the hill at Husky Soccer Field from 5:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., before the match’s 7 p.m. kickoff.
“Hope has done so much for women’s soccer and so much for our program,” UW head coach Lesle Gallimore said. “I’m really proud of her and we always love having any alumni back.”
Solo lettered at the UW from 1999 to 2002 and has won two Olympic gold medals (2008 and 2012) to go with her World Cup silver medal from 2011. Her soccer achievements have turned Solo into a role model for many Huskies following in her footsteps.
“What she’s done for the program and what she’s done as an individual — reading her book, it’s pretty impressive,” UW senior goalkeeper Kari Davidson said. “She’s a true inspiration for all of us … It’s so great to see what she’s accomplished in her life and how gritty she is.”
Five seconds of silence pass. Ten seconds.
Then, after 22 seconds, Davidson offers this about her team: “I think we’re confident in each other. … A season’s always long; there are always challenges; there are always things to overcome. But I’ve been really impressed with how our team’s come together, and it’s still a battle that we’re fighting together.”
After well over a month of up-and-down results and preaching by head coach Lesle Gallimore to “believe in your soccer abilities,” the Huskies won’t admit their confidence is shaken. With only three regular season games left — starting with tonight’s 7 p.m. matchup with Oregon at Husky Soccer Field — now is surely not the time to admit defeat.
“For some of us, it might be one of the last few games that we ever get to play,” Dufka said. “These are the last three games of the regular season, and we have to finish strong so, if we do get that tournament bid, we go into the tournament on an upward swing.”
Early in the season, the UW was a juggernaut, scoring 16 goals in its first seven games while allowing just two. But ever since the Huskies tied Utah State on Sept. 13, their head start on the competition has shrunken steadily. Now the Huskies are 9-6-2 and just 2-5-1 in conference play.
In their last 10 games, the Huskies have only scored eight goals while allowing 15 and being shut out four times. The UW defense has made save after save, but in the end, saves don’t win soccer games. Goals do.
“Most importantly, [we need to] figure out a way to turn our possession into scoring chances and finish the chances we do get,” Gallimore said. “We’ve been a little lackluster up front, to be frank, and not just with our forwards but as an attacking mentality. We haven’t been as dangerous as I know we can be.”
Last weekend on the road against Cal and Stanford, the Huskies had 13 shots over both games with eight on goal. Friday, the Golden Bears had 15 shots and eight on goal in a single game against the Huskies. Sunday, the Cardinal fired 16 shots, with seven coming on frame.
That the UW’s confidence has indeed taken a hit due to its recent results isn’t something the Huskies are willing to admit, and questions about whether they would have put away some of their recent scoring opportunities if the chances had come earlier in the season will probably never be answered. But one thing is for sure with this team: Nothing will tear it apart.
“[We’re] just remembering, when you stick to the game plan, it works,” Dufka said. “When we have each other’s backs, it works. When you communicate on the field, when we encourage each other, when we help each other, it works. Sometimes the score of the game might not reflect that, but it’s about sticking to those things that we know work.”
Reach reporter Thuc Nhi Nguyen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @thucnhi21
Please read our Comment policy.