Friday, August 30, 2013

Washington Men edge Gonzaga 1-0 with second half strike

Two of the state's three DI programs squared off in a physical contest Friday | Photos: Gerald Barnhart - GALLERY
After withstanding the early pressure and attack of the visiting Washington Huskies Friday evening, the Gonzaga men made it a back-and-forth contest versus their foes from across the state only to see Brad Jacobson’s second half goal prove to be the deciding tally for the Huskies in a 1-0 victory in the season opener for both sides.

Brad Jacobson
The Washington goal came in the 63rd minute when Josh Heard played the ball up to Darwin Jones, who had been a threat several times during the course of the contest. Jones beat his defender and sent the ball from the left side of the area into the middle where Jacobson headed a redirection inside the right post past goalkeeper Ryan Caballero, who made several huge saves in the contest for Gonzaga.

Caballero was tested right from the opening minutes by the Huskies with Christian Roldan firing an excellent shot just three minutes in from slightly outside the arc that forced a fantastic diving save.

Five minutes later a ball was crossed in from the far left that found Jacobson, whose header also resulted in a quick reaction save from the Zags netminder.

“I thought today was a pretty good balance of what you typically see on the first day of every season: couple chances both ways; neither team looks dominant and the result kind of teeters. Thankfully, it teetered to us,” said University of Washington assistant coach Craig Waibel, who was making his first competition-related return to Spokane since playing for the Spokane Shadow PDL team last in 1998 before embarking on his successful professional career for the minor league Sounders and several Major League Soccer teams.

Craig Waibel
“A lot of good effort. A lot of running that didn’t result in positive play, so there was a lot of energy expended that throughout the course of the year you will see both teams get sharper in their movements and what becomes wasted movement and what becomes productive movement.”

** Look for extended interview with Waibel later this week **

In the ninth minute, the Bulldogs showed some teeth themselves as Ben Striar delivered a low drive from about 28 yards out on the left side to the far post that forced Washington keeper Spencer Richey to make a sprawling effort to parry it away.

Just another two minutes later a fantastic series of quick combination play in the offensive third for Gonzaga took the ball up the left side to Zach Hamer (Spokane, WA) deep in the box where he beat a defender and slipped it central. Unfortunately the one-time effort from Striar flew high from about 12 yards out.

Conner Bevans also got into the mix in the 17th minute for the last good opportunity for either side in the first half, launching a shot from about 25 yards out the right wing that struck the left upright. The rebound would find its way out to Hamer, but the shot attempt was stuffed by a defender at the top of the box.

Jakob Granlund
The Zags nearly stunned the Huskies right off Washington’s second half kick off. Gonzaga took possession with Jakob Granlund and Nate Pacheco working their way up the right side before sending it into the box where it would roll out beyond the arc to Graison Le (Coeur d'Alene, ID), who ripped a shot that forced a nice save from Richey.

Four minutes later the hosts had another chance when the ball was moved quickly up the left side where it was slotted in low to Pacheco at the corner of the six, but it came to a halt as he, the defender and the goalkeeper all went down for it amidst shouts for a handball call against the Husky defender.

The woodwork denied the Zags again in the 59th minute when a corner came into the box and found the head of Clark Phillips. He sent it off the left post, but it would be cleared away from the line with a chest-high volley by a defender.

A minute later Jones began to break the Gonzaga defense down, beating Le on the left side but while driving to the area Josh Phillips crashed into the Husky striker hard at the edge of the box while trying to cover on the play. The foul drew a vociferous reaction from a Husky bench that was incensed it was not ruled inside the area and a penalty. Three minutes later, however, they would get their winner.

Gonzaga pushed hard to find an equalizer. Josh Phillips nearly made up for the dangerous foul earlier with a header in the 79th minute that appeared headed to an open portion of the net before Richey snared it, and Granlund had a chance a minute later when a loose ball reached him at the right side of the six. His hasty shot to the near post, however, was blocked by Richey, who had recovered on the play to be in position.

The last chance for a draw came with 20 seconds on the clock when Bevans saved the ball at the touchline in midfield and quickly launched a ball into the area that found the head of Greg Carter. The header beat Richey but sailed inches over the bar.