LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Two huge plays from assist leaders, Shannon Propst and Carly O'Connell, in the waning moments of the game led to Oregon’s victory over USC Friday evening at McAlister Field. A drawn charge from O’Connell and an interception from Propst with less than two minutes remaining in regulation kept the Trojans from their offensive end of the field, and sealed the 10-8 victory.
The win today coupled with Cal’s loss to Denver meant that the Ducks secured themselves a spot in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament.
“USC is very talented and we knew it was going to be a great battle,” said head coach Jen Beck. “We knew it would go to the team that played well with the ball and used momentum on their side.”
Oregon (9-5, 5-1 MPSF) returns to the tournament after missing out on the conference tournament that was played at Papé Field last year. The Ducks were left out of the tournament after a disappointing 8-9 season, just one year removed from winning both the regular season and MPSF tournament in 2012.
“Last year, not making the tournament was sitting in our gut for a while,” said Beck. “To be able to execute the things we were working on to get in the tournament is a great feeling. We have to work on not sitting on the fact that we made the tournament, and that’s my job as a coach, to keep them in the present and focused on the games ahead.”
Propst shared the same sentiments with her coach saying, “It took a lot of weight off our shoulders, but we know that conference isn’t over yet and we still have a lot of games left. We’re still playing and want to clinch one of the higher seeds in the conference tournament.”
Propst, who tied the Oregon single-season assist record today with three assists, could potentially break the record that she set last year (39) pending video review on a couple scoring plays.
The senior also credited her teammates for all her accolades, stating, “If my teammates didn’t finish and score, there would be no record.”
Both teams struggled in the first half with the Trojans and Ducks combining for 25 turnovers. However, the Ducks went into halftime trailing the Trojans, 5-4.
“We talked about adjustments, how to make our midfield transitions better,” said Propst. “We also talked about getting into our sets when we were on the offensive end. We just needed to wait until we had the best option, and everyone executed that pretty well on the field.”
“I was just super excited,” said Pyne, when asked about how she felt tying her career-high with that goal (2). “It didn’t matter who scored really, it was just important to give us the momentum to start the second half.”
But, USC (7-7, 5-3 MPSF) responded with two of their own to retake the 7-6 lead after Kaila Sommi found the back of the net with 15:14 left in the game.
With 14:05 left to play, Beck called a timeout to gather her team and get everyone on the same page. Whatever Beck said, it worked because the Ducks would score 32 seconds after the timeout thanks to O’Connell. Casey Brogan put UO back in the lead, 8-7, after she found the back of the net less than a minute later on another pass from Propst.
Pyne gave the Ducks are two-goal cushion with 7:20 left to play after the Trojan’s Courtney Tarleton was assessed a yellow card in the man-up situation.
“We’ve been working on the play for a while,” said Pyne. “While we were watching film, we knew what we wanted to do in that instance,” referring to the man-up situation after Tarleton’s yellow card.
Annie Ruland and the Women of Troy didn’t back down as Ruland netted her hat-trick to bring USC within 9-8, just 21 seconds after Pyne’s goal.
The Ducks would get some extra breathing room, and the eventual win, thanks to Holly Johnson’s goal that put UO ahead 10-8.
“I think it was definitely one of the better second halves we have played,” said Pyne. “We really went back to the basics and used our stick handling skills and slowed the game down when we needed to.”
Beck echoed her junior midfielder’s thoughts saying, “We played a great 60 minutes together. The first half wasn’t as great as I wanted, but I was happy to see that as the game progressed we got better and better.”
The Ducks will wrap up their regular season road schedule with a matchup against San Diego State at 1 p.m. (PDT) on Sunday, April 20, before playing their final two conference games at Papé Field.