Seemingly defying the country’s expectations, the Seattle University men’s soccer team has advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. However, not a single member of the Redhawks would be shy in saying that they have now reached where they belong. After Sunday night’s 1-0 win against last year’s national finalists UCLA, 11th ranked Seattle U will now head to the East coast to face 6th seeded Syracuse.
“We’ve had big wins this season already but they don’t count if we don’t prove it every time,” senior forward Hamza Haddadi said, who scored the game’s only goal.
Goalkeeper Shane Haworth, who finished with 6 saves for his tenth clean sheet of the year, also feels that the season Seattle U has been having shouldn’t be written off just yet.
“A lot of people didn’t think that we would be here, but the most satisfying thing coming out of this win is that the team isn’t a fluke. This is real. We can compete and we can win and it’s about time people saw that.”
The victory against the Bruins is Seattle U’s second ever win in the NCAA tournament as a Division I program, and their first on home soil.
Haddadi would prove to be the difference maker as he came of the bench to score his 10th goal of the season in the 40th minute. The forward was able to latch on to a long through ball from Nick Prasad, and with UCLA keeper Juan Cervantes off his line, Haddadi slipped his finish underneath the keeper and erupted the sold out crowd of 1,800 fans at Championship Field. Just seconds later the Redhawks could’ve been two goals to the good if it wasn’t for a fine parry by Cervantes on a volley from David Olsen.
The majority of the second half was then played with UCLA on the front foot. Haworth was called into action in the 65th minute as he denied Abu Danladi from close range, and the closest the Bruins came to equalizing came when Jackson Yueill struck a sizzling effort from 25 yards off the post. Olsen and Haddadi did their best to hold the play up for a Seattle U team that had to sit deep, but in the end it was a complete defensive effort that preserved the shutout.
“I honestly have never seen this team work as hard as they did defensively than this game, and that’s the new standard now,” Haworth said. “ I couldn’t be more proud of how we worked defensively.”
Pete Fewing will know that his side will have to keep up their willingness to prove their worth as they head to face Syracuse in a week’s time.
“You play against marquee programs [like UCLA] and you want to be able to play games here [at Championship Field] and you want to be able to play against some of these big teams and come away with a result,” Fewing said. “We’re excited about going to New York.”
Chaucer Larson is a sophomore Journalism and Spanish double major. Originally from Missoula, Montana, Chaucer enjoys covering sports for the Spectator, especially soccer, and has recently begun commentating matches for the school radio, KXSU. Catch Chaucer and say hello on campus before he heads out to Puebla, Mexico to study abroad Winter and Spring quarter.