EUGENE, Ore. – The University of Oregon women’s soccer team was defeated 2-1 by UC Irvine on Sunday afternoon at Papé Field. A furious rally in the final 10 minutes from head coach Kat Mertz’s team created an 88th minute goal and additional chances to equalize, but the Anteaters ended up on top in a tough loss for the Ducks.
Junior Bri Pugh scored in the 88th minute to cut the deficit to a single goal, and nearly came up with the equalizer with 10 seconds remaining on a hard-hit shot that was saved by the fingertips of goalkeeper Jennifer Randazzo.
Oregon out-shot UC Irvine 18-16 after creating a flurry of attempts late in the match. The Anteaters, who defeated Oregon State 2-0 on Friday, improve to 3-3-0 on the season while the Ducks fall to 2-4-0.
“I told the girls that I’m proud that we responded that way, but we can’t wait that long to get it going,” said Mertz. “We have the ability to do it right from the beginning. UC Irvine is a seasoned team with good players, but we can’t wait that long. We showed that we can respond, and the 18 shots are fantastic, we just have to put them away.”
UC Irvine came out dangerous in attack and were rewarded for it with a goal just two minutes and two seconds into the contest. Zoya Farzaneh sent a cross in from the right flank, and a Jenna Pellegrino header from the six-yard box put UC Irvine ahead, 1-0.
The Ducks created a great look late in the first half and sophomore Brooke Strawn headed the ball into the net off a well-placed cross, but the forward was waived offside. The Anteaters went into the break with a 1-0 lead after out-shooting Oregon 10-8 in the first half.
The Anteaters added to their advantage in the 75th minute as Farzaneh scored the game-winning goal. The Ducks failed to clear a corner kick before the ball fell to Farzaneh, whose shot beat goalkeeper Abby Steele from about 12 yards out.
Oregon had four shots on goal in the final seven minutes of the contest. Pugh had a shot in the 87th minute squirt past the UC Irvine goalkeeper and come inches away from crossing the line for a goal. Not willing to concede the loss, Pugh finally found the back of the net just one minute later.
Kira Wagoner’s shot from the left flank was deflected off the fingertips of Randazzo before falling to Pugh at the six-yard box. Pugh calmly delivered a scoring strike on the rebound with 2:23 left on the clock.
Pugh and the Ducks looked poised to even the game in the final minute, but Randazzo came up with one last save and UC Irvine held on for the win.
Oregon finished with 18 shots in the match after taking 10 shots in the final half. Pugh was phenomenal in the attacking third, finishing with eight shots and six shots on target. Pugh now has a team-high five points and 21 shots on the season. Oregon’s Abby Steele came up with six saves between the posts. The Ducks led UC Irvine in shots (18-16), shots on goal (9-8) and corners (7-5).
Oregon returns to action Thursday night, hosting sixth-ranked BYU at Papé Field. The match will get underway at 7 p.m. (PT) and will be televised live by the Pac-12 Networks.