Oregon club soccer players reflect on winning “The Treble”
One of the most recent posts on the University of Oregon men’s soccer club’s Facebook page is a team photo captioned, “We never get tired of winning.”
The photo was taken after the team captured the Oregon State Invitational for its third trophy of the season. The brash caption encompassed what Oregon has done this season: Win.
The Ducks were nearly unstoppable all year. They outscored opponents 81-22 en route to a 20-1-3 record, while playing club teams from mostly large universities. In addition to the OSU invitational, they won both league and national titles during the winter. This completed what members of the team refer to as “The Treble,” an homage to winning three trophies in a season at the European professional level.
The team’s competitive schedule has ended for the year, and while the Ducks will still take the field for the occasional friendly match during the spring, they now have time to reflect on their accomplishments. For many of the Oregon players, it was the most successful season of their careers.
“We never felt like we were going to lose,” sophomore forward Andrew Saenz said. “We would never really get mad. If we were losing, we always just felt like we could get one or two goals to get back in it.”
Oregon tallied off numerous blowout wins, but its most important victory took a gutsy performance and a bit of luck.
In the NIRSA National Championship match, Oregon trailed UC Davis 2-1 after surrendering a goal with 15 minutes left in regulation. Near the end of what was their sixth match in three days, the Ducks sent forward a frantic attack in a desperate attempt to draw even.
“Going into the last five minutes [center back Zach Donner] was basically our only defender and we had nine guys up the field,” Oregon player-coach Alex Riley said. “I told [center back Kevin Cotter], ‘Dude, just go…’ He went into the box and actually got fouled in the box and we drew a [penalty kick].”
Henry Fassinger buried the penalty kick for the Ducks with no time remaining in regulation. Just minutes later, Oregon won the match in extra time on a golden goal by Saenz.
“It literally can’t get better than that,” Riley said.
The team is formed of players who, Riley states, are all talented enough to play college soccer anywhere from the Division III to Division I level.
As with many large-school club teams, Oregon’s players come from various backgrounds.
Donner spent three years playing high school and club ball in Oregon before moving to England, where he spent a season playing for the professional club Woking FC.
Riley played with a club team in the Bay Area that spent a brief time as the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. Saenz said he was never the primary scoring threat on his high school team in San Jose, California, but he has now evolved into the point man on a championship team during his first year with Oregon.
“My main goal was to go Division I,” Riley said. “It’s everyone’s dream. But having that big ‘O’ on my chest — there’s nothing better than that.
“I’ve been at this school for four years and looking back, I’m just amazed at what we’ve accomplished.”
Follow Jarrid on Twitter @jarrid_denney
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