Oregon women’s soccer has future to look forward to after 2015 season
A final record of 6-13 (3-8) didn’t accomplish a goal set by the Oregon women’s soccer team. The Ducks finished 10th in the Pac-12 (9 points).
“The results don’t define us as a team,” head coach Kat Mertz said. “Part of the challenge is changing this culture. Oregon soccer has been around for 19 years and we’ve had one winning record.”
It was a rollercoaster season for the Ducks, one that Mertz graded in the C to C+ range. Of the 19 games the team played this season, 15 were decided by a single goal – coincidently 79 percent. Oregon won five.
“That hurts my heart a little,” Mertz said laughing before she recalled some of those memories.
The Ducks struggled in the month of October during the meat of conference play. After beating Colorado on the second day of the month, they followed with seven consecutive losses — four in scoreless fashion.
The improved mentality, especially during the tougher months, was a positive of the season, Mertz says. The team was all-in, a category Mertz ruled a B+. Adding that the team adopted a name for its nonstarters: “gamechangers.”
“They were ready for their opportunity instead of being on the sideline complaining they weren’t starting,” Mertz said.
It started to show, too, as the season concluded. In Oregon’s final two games, against the Huskies and Beavers, the Ducks won in dramatic fashion.
“They came out and had fun at practice, the energy was high,” Mertz said. “They played for each other, the played for the seniors, and most importantly they played for the future of this program.”
It was the first time Oregon has beat the Beavers in Corvallis in 12 years, and to Kat, that’s something her team will build upon going into her fourth season in control of the program.
“I thought the way we ended the season was really great,” Mertz said. “I think overall, our quality of soccer increased. We we’re producing a better brand of soccer which I am really proud of … we want to continue to build off and use that momentum going into the winter and spring.”
Five seniors won their final game: Brooke Strawn, Kira Wagoner, Kelsey Foo, Katie McCormick and Kristen Parr.
As of now, Mertz will return eight starters for 2016, including Pac-12 All-Freshman Marissa Everett and leading scorer with four goals.
“Now, we just need a couple of people to go out there with some confidence to put the ball in the back of the net,” Mertz said. “I’m looking forward to it. The girls are disappointed with the way our record turned out, but I think they’re exited about the future and the opportunity to contribute to the future of this program.”
Contact Andrew on Twitter @AndrewBantly
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