Oct. 10, 2009

SEATTLE - Less than a week after nearly upsetting No. 4 UCLA but settling for a 1-1 draw, the Washington men's soccer team finally earned the big victory they've been so close to all season, knocking off No. 5 California, 2-0, on Friday at Edwards Stadium.

The Huskies stayed unbeaten in three conferences matches this season, improving to 1-0-2 after a pair of draws at home last weekend. But they earned a huge win on the road Friday to improve to 4-4-3 overall and move into first place in the conference. Cal drops to 7-3-0 and 1-1-0.

UW got a first-half goal from Matt Van Houten and Brad Keller added some breathing room with another goal in the second half as UW defeated Cal for the first time since 2005. The junior Keller had three points in the match, adding an assist on Van Houten's goal while senior Casey Cunningham assisted on Keller's goal. Keller's three points on the day surpassed his career output of two points coming into the match.

The victory also handed Cal its first home loss of the season after they started 5-0 in Berkeley and it was the first time they'd been shutout all season. Senior goalkeeper Rylan Hawkins made six saves for the Huskies in recording his fourth shutout of the year.

"Needles to say it's our biggest win of the season and the guys deserved it. They played well and it was a mature performance, like a professional performance," Washington head coach Dean Wurzberger said. "They were tough minded, they really pulled together and defended well. I was proud of their effort.

Washington outshot Cal, 18-16, for the game but the Bears had the edge early, outshooting the Huskies 8-3 through the first 19 minutes, which included three shots by Cal star Andrew Wiedeman that Hawkins wound up saving.

The Huskies finally struck in the 23rd minute when Keller sent a cross into the box and Van Houten scored his second goal of the season with a diving header past the Bears' keeper.

With Cal desperately trying to equalize, the Huskies would go up 2-0 in the 54th minute when Cunningham fed Keller who then launched a shot from 30 yards out past a diving Robby Gogatz and the Huskies would never look back.

Cal looked like they might get one of the goals back in the 75th minute but a Golden Bear shot heading toward an empty Husky net was headed away by a UW defender and Hawkins made one last save in the 82nd minute on a long-range curving shot to preserve the shutout.

"We were unlucky to not catch any goals last weekend but to outshoot Cal in the second half here is great. This is a tough place to play and so many of our seniors have never beaten Cal either at home or on the road so it's a major strike in the positive direction for us," Wurzberger said. "We have been getting a notch better every week and it really came together today. The defensive job done by Taylor Mueller on Adam Wiedeman and Casey Cunningham on holding midfield was just exceptional. The guys worked hard. Brent Richards and Ryan Moore also caused a lot of problems with their defense. It was a sight to see them come together in such a big game. We have a tough challenge Sunday but we'll enjoy this and focus on that game tomorrow."

The Huskies now turn their attention to another ranked opponent as they face No. 17 Stanford in Palo Alto on Sunday at 1 p.m.