"Portland used to be the powerhouse when UW got serious about soccer, so it was great to see us win on this occasion," UW coach Dean Wurzberger said about notching the program's 500th victory. "I congratulate all the previous UW head coaches that built up that record and I'm very proud to carry it on. This is a special team, no question about it."
The Huskies' first victory came in its first game, a 2-1 win at the University of Victoria in neighboring Canada. But by 1966, the UW program was on the verge of collapse as the Huskies played only two games, both losses to Victoria.
Washington was invited to the NCAA Tournament for the first time two years, and it has remained a Far West power, relying heavily on talent from the Seattle area, one of the first parts of the country to be hit by the youth soccer boom of the early 1970s.
Postseason success hasn't come easily for the Huskies. It wasn't until 1992 and its eighth NCAA appearance that Washington won its first NCAA tournament game. It received first-round byes in 2001 and 2003 but didn't reach the third round for the first time until 2003 when it fell to Saint Louis, 3-2, in overtime. In 2006, the Huskies fell to Santa Clara, 3-2, in overtime in the second round.
The Huskies (whose all-time record is 500-198-78) are off to a strong start in 2007, opening 4-1-1 with shutout wins in their last three games. They have one of the nation's best frontlines in Kevin Forrest and Ely Allen, but they were stymied Tuesday by Portland, which had won the last four meetings.
After a scoreless first half with neither squad racking up many scoring opportunities, the Huskies used a restart from just outside the top of the box to grab the lead. Cox's free kick sailed inside the left post to give UW a lead. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Stephen Fung held off Portland the rest of the way.
"It was a tough game," Wurzberger said. "We always knew it would be tough. This is always a game both teams put a maximum effort into. Portland played very well defensively and they made it difficult for us to get in and shoot. It took a lot of nerve to win like we did, to be patient and look for a restart, a little bit of quality which is what decided the game."
UW will remain at home to host the Husky Fever Classic, where it will face Denver on Friday and unbeaten Furman on Sunday.