Washington women's soccer team one win from Final Four
A victory at Boston College on Saturday would put Washington in women's soccer College Cup.
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Why not just win it all?
Buying into coach Lesle Gallimore's we-belong mind-set, the Washington women's soccer team takes aim at a UW first — advancing to the NCAA Final Four (aka the College Cup) — when it visits Boston College at 1 p.m. PST Saturday in an Elite Eight matchup.
The unseeded, unranked Huskies (13-8-2), the Pac-10's sixth-place team, are in the national quarterfinals for the second time (the first: 2004) in program history.
A Cinderella story? Not to Gallimore.
An 0-17-3 season in 2005 jolted her and her staff into embracing new paradigms, such as wooing blue-chip recruits long before their senior prep seasons. Thus, she believes, UW's late-blooming 2010 success is better interpreted as the natural progression of an evolving program being engineered for sustainable national prominence.
"We've been knocking on the door for quite a while of where I've always pictured this program," said Gallimore, whose 2008 and '09 squads reached the second round of the NCAA tournament. "This (a deep postseason run) is more the expectation people should have of Washington soccer."
With only one of four No. 1 regional seeds still in the field — overall top seed Stanford (21-0-2) — Gallimore sees no reason not to aim high.
"We could win the title this year," said Gallimore, who has guided UW to 11 postseason appearances in 17 seasons. "I'm not predicting we will, but if you don't say it out loud and believe it, you're never going to get one."
Boston College (16-6-1), a No. 2 regional seed, tied Stanford 1-1 in August and defeated 20-time national champion North Carolina 3-2 on the road in September.
The Huskies reached this stage after a 4-0 victory over Oklahoma, a shootout win over second-ranked Portland and a double-overtime, 1-0 win Saturday over UC Irvine.
Freshman Allie Beahan, an Eastlake High School graduate, scored the deciding goal at Irvine on an assist by Sarah Martinez, a junior from Mount Rainier High. Washington's three postseason wins have all come on the road.
Junior goalkeeper Jorde LaFontaine-Kussmann has allowed just one goal in the three matches.
• Boston College, ranked 18th in two polls, plays on a narrow field similar to Irvine's. "Trying to find space for the quick ball movement we prefer is going will be a challenge," Gallimore said. "It's more difficult when it's crowded."
• Gallimore yearns to reach her first College Cup, but acknowledges the 2010 season has been gratifying. "We're hitting our stride at the right time," she said. "This is a fun group of players who have really come into own. They're as good as we have always told them they are, and there's nothing like winning to make you more confident and truly believe in yourself."
• BC won nine straight regular-season matches, then dropped five of its last eight. The Eagles defeated West Virginia (a No. 3 regional seed) 4-0 on their home field Saturday. BC is 9-3-1 at home.