BOULDER, Colo. -- The UO women’s soccer team played even with Colorado (10-2-0, 2-1-0) Sunday in a competitive battle at Prentup Field, but a 63rd minute wonder strike from Hayley Hughes lifted the Buffaloes to a 1-0 victory. The Ducks outshot Colorado 15-13 and gave a superb defensive effort in the narrow loss.
Oregon falls to 2-6-3 on the season, playing in just its second road match. Oregon hasn’t lost by more than a single goal in any contest this year.
Junior goalkeeper Abby Steele, the Pac-12 leader in total saves, matched a season-high with eight saves. Oregon took nine shots in the second half and outshot the Buffaloes, but the Ducks couldn’t pull even from Hughes’ game-winning strike, a shot that came from well over 30 yards out.
“I’m proud of the team effort today,” said head coach Kat Mertz. “We played with a lot of heart and played the way I know we’re capable of. Colorado came up with a few big saves and the ball didn’t bounce our way. It was a heck of a goal that (Hughes) shot.”
Oregon nearly took the lead in the 28th minute as Bri Pugh found space on the end line to send a cross into the box. ShayLee Miner nearly slid onto the ball, but it squirted past to sophomore Maryn Beutler. Beutler’s shot was blocked from close range.
Lilly Archer provided Oregon’s lone shot on target of the first half with a shot in the 29th minute but Annie Brunner made the save.
Colorado entered the fixture averaging 2.2 goals per match, but the Ducks pitched a shutout in the first half behind an inspired performance from Steele. The Buffaloes took eight shots in the first period and led in possession, but couldn’t get the ball past Steele. Oregon has allowed just two first half goals in 11 matches this season.
Hughes went on to break the stalemate in the 63rd minute, blasting a shot from distance to the top, right corner of the net. Steele read the shot well and nearly got there in time, but the perfectly-placed shot found the back of the net.
The Ducks threatened Colorado’s goal frequently in the second half, taking nine shots. Oregon’s best look to pull even came off a set piece in the 85th minute. Ashlee Schulz flicked a Archer’s corner kick to the far post, and defender Reilley Moore headed the ball just inches high of the cross bar.
Pugh and Archer led Oregon’s offense with three shots a piece, while Beutler, Moore and Miner each chipped in with two. Oregon finished with its highest shot total since taking 19 on Sept. 12 against No. 6 BYU.
Steele improved her save total to 56 on the season. She has a .836 save percentage and a 0.94 goals against average.
The Ducks return to action next weekend with a pair of Pac-12 matches at Papè Field. The Ducks host Arizona State on Friday at 7 p.m. (PT) and Arizona on Sunday at noon.
“This was a great team effort, and if we play next week like we did here today, we’ll be a tough team to beat,” said Mertz. “We’ll get to work on some things on the attacking side and work on getting our shots in frame. Every game in the Pac-12 is a battle, and we’ll shift out focus to Arizona State first and then Arizona.”