Ducks soccer take down Arizona 2-0 with late goals
The Oregon Ducks soccer team beat the Arizona Wildcats on Friday night 2-0 in a gritty defensive battle in the rain at Pape Field to increase their record to 6-7-2 overall and 1-4-1 in the Pac-12. With the loss, Arizona drops to 6-8-1 overall, 2-4-0 in conference play.
625 fans endured the rain to see what most thought would be a hard-fought defensive battle, which is what they got. Both teams seemed to take away everything their opponent tried with neither getting great looks offensively. During the first half, the bulk of the game was played at midfield with minimal opportunities to advance the ball for both offenses.
The Ducks did find consistency in senior midfielder Scout Libke who repeatedly tried to push the ball and give her team mates looks on the offensive side. The passes from Scout were so good that her fellow Ducks had trouble corralling the swift kicks.
The opportunities quickly came and went for Oregon in the first half and at the break the familiar feeling of another tie, or worse, crept over Pape Field. The second half started out similarly with both teams going hard on defense, refusing to give up a goal.
They weren’t without their chances though as the Ducks saw a barrage of scoring opportunities halfway though the second half. Several came in the box with the Arizona goal keeper out of position and unable to recover but the Ducks repeatedly were unable to get a foot on the ball and make a play, usually due to a speedy Arizona defense.
The Turning Point. After much angst, the Ducks finally saw one of Libke’s spot on passes be converted to a goal with six minutes left in the contest. The goal came courtesy of a free kick after Arizona junior midfielder Ana-Maria Montoya was called for a foul. Montoya disagreed with the call and charged at the ref and promptly received a yellow card.
Libke used this opportunity to loft the ball into the box where senior defender Nicole Bakke was waiting to knock the ball in off a header. It was Bakke’s first goal as a Duck.
“I think there was just a complete momentum shift,” Libke said, comparing the two halves. “The first half they were kind of going at us and they had some shots, I’m not sure if they were shots on goal, but they had some shots. In the second half I though we high-pressured when Achijah Berry came in. We definitely made some hard tackles and kept them in their half more, which led to some chances.”
The chances did indeed come for Oregon, with them beating Arizona with shots on goal 14-5. After the first goal, with five minutes left the Ducks seemed content to run out the clock with rapid short passes between each other until, with 11 seconds left, Bri Pugh got past every Arizona defender and had goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman one-on-one. With a powerful kick, she got the ball in the back of the net and allowed Oregon to forget about their road woes in recent memory.
“Equally important I think was that last goal with only 11 seconds left to go,” head coach Tara Erickson said of the two goals. “Bri has been really really hungry to try and score for us this year so for her to kind of break that spell, I think that was important for her. Hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come.”
On The Horizon. The Ducks will look to use this offensive momentum on Sunday when they take on the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Sun Devils are currently sitting at eight in the Pac-12 at 6-8-1 overall and 2-4-0 in the Pac-12. That game will be played at 1 p.m. at Pape Field.
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