Oregon falls 3-1 to USC, drops to 0-2 in conference play
Going into Thursday night’s match, Oregon head coach Kat Mertz knew that it would be a tough battle against USC, who ranks ninth on the national RPI list and had not let a goal slip by in its last six games.
“It was a coaching stat that we kept to ourselves,” Mertz said.
The Ducks, who ranked 24th entering the match, suffered another setback in a Pac-12 outing when they fell 3-1 to the Trojans in their second match of Pac-12 play Thursday evening at Papé Field.
With the loss, the Ducks are now 0-2 to start their pac-12 schedule.
The first period of the game saw a lot of physicality out on the field, with the Trojans muscling their way to six attempts at a goal. In contrast, Oregon’s sleepy offense only recorded one attempt at the goal. Though the Ducks were close to penning down more attempts, the lack of support as the ball approached the opposite end of the field often led to a change in possession.
“We kind of waited for the ball, and they just ran right through us,” Mertz said.
The Trojans drew first blood when they landed a penalty kick at the 20th minute.
As the game progressed, the players got visibly more aggressive, which prompted the referee to dole out a yellow card each to USC and Oregon within a span of 20 seconds.
Barely a minute after the second period kicked off, the Trojans scored twice, in the span of no less than 20 seconds, to extend their lead to 3-1. The pressure was on for the Ducks to guide the ball into the net, at least once, for the 443 fans egging them on while braving the continuous cold breeze.
At the 76th minute, Oregon sophomore forward Taylor Kuroda stepped up to the task and scored off an assist from midfielder Sofia Chambers. The fans’ reaction from the goal was lagged – chaos ensued in the scoring box after midfielder Abby Morrow shot the ball from the corner. Chambers’ header had been deflected, but the ball was bouncing around in the box haphazardly until Kuroda tapped it over the line to score the Ducks’ first goal in the Pac-12 and her first goal of the season. However, the motion had been so quick and minute that the ball remained in play until the referee determined that the Ducks had indeed scored a goal.
“I was really impressed that we were able to get a goal against a really good defensive team,” Mertz said.
The Ducks exit the match with a record of 6-4-1 and registered with 11 shots (six on goal). USC stands at 8-2-0, with 14 shots (four on goal).
Besides being the first home match for the Ducks in the Pac-12 conference, it was also the opening event of the BEOREGON initiative, a partnership between the university and Nike which is a “call to action for all Ducks to be their most authentic selves.” During warmups, the Ducks were decked out in BEOREGON gear which featured The Duck logo on a multi-colored background.
“That’s what we talk about a lot with our team – having a judge-free zone, accepting people for who they are,” Mertz said. “We have 30 amazing young women. For us, it’s about respecting everyone’s story and where they come from. To be able to put this behind BEOREGON and BETRUE is truly a special day for our women’s soccer team.”
A quick turnaround in the schedule will see the Ducks in action on Sunday afternoon against UCLA, who ranks 11th on the RPI list.
“UCLA has a lot of dangerous players,” Mertz said. “They’re fast. They’re pacey. It will be a different style of soccer. We’re going to have to contain them.”
The Ducks may get a boost to their roster on Sunday – Oregon team captain Caitlyn Wong was seen warming up prior to the game against the Trojans, but she remained on the bench. Mertz said that Wong could be back in action when Oregon plays against UCLA.
“We want her at a 100 percent, not 80 percent,” Mertz said
Follow Romaine Soh on Twitter @mainetainpls
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