EUGENE, Ore. -- Playing in a third consecutive double-overtime match, the University of Oregon women’s soccer team shutout undefeated Washington State (7-0-3) in a scoreless draw Thursday night at Papé Field. Neither team could find net in the first match of the Pac-12 season, as a defensive battle ended in a 0-0 tie through 110 minutes.
Behind an organized and compact defensive effort, Oregon (2-4-3) earned its third straight double-overtime draw. The Ducks have gone to extra time in four games this season with three of those contests coming against opponents ranked or receiving votes in the NSCAA Continental Tire Poll.
Junior goalkeeper Abby Steele made six saves and the Duck defense shined the brightest in the first conference game of the season. The Cougars entered the contest with an average of 2.11 goals per match, but Oregon was up to the challenge and earned its third shutout of the season.
“I’m proud of the girls,” said head coach Kat Mertz. “We said that the season started over with Pac-12 play, and we’ll take a point in a Pac-12 match. We gutted it out. We had to play with some heart.”
The Ducks have allowed just a single goal in the past three fixtures, playing 110 minutes in each of those games. The contest marked the first time in program history Oregon has played in three consecutive double-overtime matches.
Juniors Bri Pugh (22’, 33’) and Kiyomi Cook (27’) each fired shots for Oregon in the first half, but the Cougars outshot the Ducks 7-3 in the first period. Cook’s 27th-minute shot was Oregon’s best look on frame, as the midfielder found space on top of the box and drilled a hard-hit shot that required a save from Gurveen Clair.
The Cougars had another seven shots in the second half, but couldn’t find a winner thanks to a composed Oregon defense. Junior Shanelle Simien led the Ducks in the second half with two shots. She put a shot on target in the 52nd minute, and had a shot sail high of the bar in the 82nd minute – Oregon’s last shot of regulation.
Steele preserved the draw with a clutch save in the first overtime period, stopping a shot from Nicole Setterlund in the 91st minute. Washington State’s Micaela Castain, the Pac-12’s leading goal scorer, had a shot bounce off the cross bar prior to Setterlund’s shot. Pugh (92’) and Cook (99’) each took shots in the first overtime period, but neither went on frame.
Neither team had a shot on target in the second overtime period, as the clock hit zeros with both defenses deserving of a draw. Duck defenders Achijah Berry, Reilley Moore, Riley Smith and Gabbie Lindeman performed admirably in a physical Pac-12 battle.
Pugh led the team in shots for the sixth straight game with three shots and a shot on target. Cook and Simien each finished with two shots to add to the attack.
With the shutout, Steele improved to second in UO’s career charts in shutouts (12). She improved her season goals against average to 0.93, while her save percentage jumped to .836.
The Ducks return to action Oct. 4, meeting Utah in their first road game of the season. Start time between the Ducks and Utes is set for 6 p.m. (PT). Oregon will take the pitch two days later, meeting Colorado on Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. (PT) in Boulder, Colo.