PORTLAND, Ore. - The Oregon Ducks women's soccer team fought hard against the #11 ranked Portland Pilots on Friday night on the road at Merlo Field but came up short, losing the match 2-0. After giving up a goal in the third minute of action, the Ducks came back aggressively but couldn't put the ball in the back of the net.
A crowd of 4,912 filled the stands at Merlo Field, and a spirited student section of 1,575 made for a rough environment for the Ducks.
"Obviously it's disappointing getting the loss after playing such a hard fought match," said head coach Tara Erickson. "I thought that we came out a little flat and maybe a little awe-struck, but I think we settled into the game right after we gave up the first goal and that's unfortunate because it would have been a little bit of a different match. You saw us pushing for the remaining 88 minutes of the game."
The Pilots got off to a hot start, scoring the first goal of the game in the third minute. Forward Micaela Capelle scored from 12 yards out off of an assist by midfielder Ellen Parker. The Ducks outshot Portland in the first half (7-5), while the Pilots held the advantage in corner kicks (5-1).
Senior midfielder Scout Libke fired a shot from about 20 yards out on a free kick and nailed the crossbar to give the Ducks their best chance of the half. Freshman forward Brooke Strawn tried to lob a shot over Pilot goalkeeper Erin Dees with seven seconds left in the half, but Dees was able to make the save.
Both sides played extremely physically and left everything out on the field. Portland ended the game with the advantage in shots (13-9) and corner kicks (7-2). Although the defensive backline played extremely well, the Pilots managed to get off eight shots in the second half, six of which were saved by goalkeeper Abby Steele. Steele finished the match with seven saves, giving her 13 on the year.
The Ducks played the second half very aggressively and attacked on offense. Junior Achijah Berry showed off her dazzling speed as she split the defense on a breakaway and barely missed a shot to the left of the goal. Strawn had another close attempt in the second half, this one a header off of a long pass by Libke. An unfortunate own goal off of senior defender Lauren Thompson in the 86th minute locked up the win for Portland.
Once again, Oregon's fresh legs and lineup depth allowed them to play hard all game long. "I thought we played well in spurts," added Coach Erickson. "Our players that came off the bench did really well for us. I liked the battle. It was unfortunate to give up the own goal late in the game that really sealed the loss. We learned a lot in terms of how to play in a hostile environment. It was good for our younger kids, playing in front of 4000 people, they never had that experience. The crowd and the chanting, I thought we dealt with that very, very well. We'll come back and learn from this and I expect that we'll use that as a learning lesson and motivation for the game on Sunday against Portland State."
The Ducks fall to 1-1-0 on the season and stay in Portland for the weekend before taking on Portland State on Sunday at 1 p.m.