Stoltenberg leads Ducks on six-game win streak

Dave Martinez

The Oregon women’s soccer team is in the midst of a six-game winning streak after defeating Portland State University 2-0 last Friday, which put the Ducks at 7-1-1 on
the season.

A large part of Oregon’s success in 2009 has been due to the play of junior forward and offensive machine Jen Stoltenberg.

Stoltenberg leads Oregon in almost every offensive category with six goals, 16 points and 19 shots on goal, but she and fifth-year head coach Tara Erickson said that the offensive pressure has been lightened this season as many of the younger players have improved their understanding of the Duck offense.

“She picked up right where she was last season, obviously with the scoring goals, but I like that other people are contributing now,” Erickson said. “Last season I felt like we were more of a one-woman show so teams could really focus on her. But now (they’re) having to worry about Rianna (Mansfield) or Julie (Armstrong) or Teresa Bowns, so now all of a sudden it’s going to open up for Stolt.”

The 2008 honorable mention all-Pac-10 selection has definitely grown into a fan favorite at Pape Field, as her speed and ball-handling make her a threat to score nearly every time she breaks away.

Erickson commented that a lot of it has to do with the experience Stoltenberg has gained over the past couple years.

“I think she’s a more mature player this year and you’ll see her going at players with speed,” Erickson said. “And at times, she’ll slow things down and that seems to be
working well.”

Senior captain and defender Danielle Sweeney, who is also the second leading scorer on the team with two goals, agreed that the improvement of the team as a whole has been a key contributor to a lot of Stoltenberg’s success thus far.

“This year is really the first year that we have had more players who are threats themselves up top, so now when we play teams they can’t just focus on her,” Sweeney said. “Now teams have to worry about more of our players offensively.”

In addition to Stoltenberg’s speed, core strength and ability to strike the ball hard every time she kicks it have made her into the player she is today. But she also believes that the other players around her have made her job on the field much more manageable now that she is not the only offensive threat.

“It’s cool because everyone on this team can score, even defenders like Sweeney,”
Stoltenberg said.

Erickson has tried to implement several players off the bench and into the games over the course of the preseason with the aspiration to expand the team’s overall depth heading into Pac-10 play, where they will play two games nearly every weekend for the next month and a half.

For Stoltenberg, continuing on at the pace the team has set will be simple.

“(We will just continue) to work together and focus on defending as a team and attacking as a team and fixing the little things in between there,” she said.

With only two games left before Pac-10 play begins, the Ducks will get things as finely tuned as possible before the conference home opener with Cal on Friday, Oct. 9.
Stoltenberg said the team’s closeness makes it more effective at working toward its goals.

“I definitely think our team chemistry has helped,” Stoltenberg said. “We’re really close off the field and I think it helps tremendously on the field. I think we’re all headed for the same goal.”

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