1968 – Around the World and Close to Home
The Tet Offensive turns the tide in the Vietnam War, Apollo 8 orbits the moon, and Bob Beamon raises the long-jump world record by 21 inches, to 29 feet, 2 1/2 inches, at the Olympic Games in Mexico City. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy are assassinated, Richard Nixon is narrowly elected president, and 60 Minutes begins airing on CBS. Jimi Hendrix plays a homecoming concert at the Seattle Center Arena, King County voters approve funding a new stadium and waterfront aquarium, and Seattle (The Bluest Skies) debuts as theme song for TV show Here Come the Brides.
Thrill of Victory, Agony of Defeat
College play was still in its infancy when Western Washington Soccer Conference commissioner Joe Kearney took an early November call from the NCAA. The WWSC winner was being invited to participate in the NCAA tournament. Kearney, whose primary job was University of Washington athletic director, pounced on the opportunity. Still, it was a problematic proposition.
The NCAA tournament would start in less than a week, and the WWSC championship was still undecided. Quickly Kearney decreed that the top two eligible teams, Washington and Seattle University, would meet Nov. 18 at Lower Woodland Park to determine the conference representative. The next morning, the winner would fly south to play at the University of San Francisco that same afternoon.
On a cold, damp evening, the Huskies and Chieftains battled, and then battled some more. Washington had scored a total of five goals in defeating Seattle U twice in October. This time, the match remained scoreless through 90 minutes. In that era, there was no overtime during regular season play. But Kearney had promised the NCAA an outright winner, so the coaches, Mike Ryan of UW and Hugh McArdle of SU, shook hands on playing until someone scored.
Minutes into the first extra period, Seattle U seemed to have one foot on the plane. Mike Carney stepped up for a penalty kick, however Mike Jones saved it for the Huskies. On and on they played.
It was after 11 o’clock and in the third overtime period when the breakthrough occurred. Joe Siebu slotted a ball into space behind a tired SU back line, and John Goldingay scored on a breakaway. The Huskies dispersed to get a few hours of sleep before meeting at the airport.
San Francisco would be the first non-Northwest opponent Washington faced in its seven seasons of varsity play. The more experienced, more sophisticated Dons had played in six NCAA tournaments, winning the 1966 championship. Their prolific attacking tandem of Torgier Hague and Alex Roboostoff combined for 36 goals. The entire Huskies roster had totaled 17 goals and San Francisco 79.
Washington weathered the first few forays, but when Jones left the game with an injured wrist and was replaced by an outfield player, USF went for the kill. The Huskies could not clear their lines and faced flurries of shots, many of them flying past the bewildered substitute goalkeepers, who changed every few goals. By halftime it was 10-nil. In the end, Washington was credited with a single shot to the Dons’ record total of 83. Hague and Roboostoff each scored five times in the 16-0 shelling.
Goldingay, a senior playing in his final collegiate game, said it was all a bad, bad dream. “It was just a flipping nightmare. I feel like we got up, got on a plane, went to San Francisco, and we just got hammered.”