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Originally published Friday, November 14, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Washington women's soccer takes rough road back to NCAA tournament

Washington has returned to the NCAA women's soccer tournament for the first time since 2004, when the Huskies advanced to the Elite Eight...

Special to The Seattle Times

Washington has returned to the NCAA women's soccer tournament for the first time since 2004, when the Huskies advanced to the Elite Eight, the program's best showing.

They followed that with an 0-17-3 record in 2005. In 2006 the Huskies managed just five wins. In 2007, seven.

"For a while, not a lot of people were making eye contact with me," coach Lesle Gallimore said, laughing as she acknowledged her program's roller-coaster swings in recent years. "Now there's a lot more smiles to go around."

The Huskies (14-5-1) open postseason play today in College Station, Texas, against LSU (14-3-2) in a first-round match. The road back to the tournament has been a bumpy one.

This year, strengthened by a skilled freshman class (including Kate Deines of Issaquah) and the emergence of junior forward Veronica Perez as an offensive dynamo, UW finished third in the Pac-10 and played well against tough opponents. Perez was named to the all-Pac-10 second team Thursday. Deines was named to the all-freshman team.

So how did the Huskies drop so far so fast? What keyed their renewal?

Washington lost eight graduating seniors, plus two juniors because of injury from the 2004 team.

"Those players accounted for 85 percent of our points," Gallimore said. "Literally, we were almost starting from scratch in '05.

"Maybe there's an excuse in there, but the responsibility fell squarely on our shoulders as coaches. I've never had a dip like we had in 2005. It was a huge eye-opener."

Perez, who began the year with just two career goals, ranks third in the Pac-10 in goals (12), second in game-winning goals (six) and fourth in points (29). Deines, a three-time Washington state player of the year, is second on the team in goals (six).

Division II soccer

Seattle Pacific will host a Division II West regional match at 1 p.m. Saturday at Interbay Stadium. The Falcons, 17-1-2 and ranked fourth nationally, received a first-round bye. They are the No. 2 seed in the regional.

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The Falcons will play UC San Diego, which beat BYU-Hawaii 1-0 Thursday night at Interbay.

Western Washington, the No. 1 seed in the region, also has a first-round bye and will host a match Sunday. The Vikings (16-2-2) will play the winner of today's match between San Francisco State and Cal State Dominguez Hills.

UW volleyball

Fifth-ranked Washington (19-4, 10-3 Pac-10) faces its final ranked team of the regular season this weekend when it visits No. 8 Oregon (20-5, 8-4) on Sunday. The Huskies also play tonight at Oregon State (14-11, 3-9). FSN will televise Sunday's match at 12:30 p.m.

Washington has lost only to No. 2 Stanford in its past nine matches, beating eight ranked opponents (including five top-10 teams).

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