Ducks soccer navigating tricky Pac-12 stretch with five games left
Through the first half of Pac-12 play, perhaps nobody know the strength of the conference like the Oregon’s women’s soccer team.
After an encouraging 6-3-1 start in nonconference play to begin the season, Oregon has lost each of its first six games in Pac-12 play. Perched at the bottom of conference standings, the Ducks remain on the hunt for their elusive first victory in the Pac-12.
“Every game is a beast,” head coach Kat Mertz said following the team’s loss to Cal on Saturday. “We’ve gone through some very difficult opponents.”
Oregon has had a very difficult draw through the first half of their conference season. The six schools that the Ducks have faced are all in the top half of the Pac-12 standings and have combined to go 30-3-3 so far in conference play.
Mertz said though the Ducks remain winless in Pac-12 play, the team’s record doesn’t accurately represent Oregon’s level of play and competitiveness so far. She added that some tough penalty kicks haven’t gone Oregon’s way.
In the first half of play, Oregon had a -2 goal differential. The Ducks were tied going into halftime in four of the six games and down one goal in the other two. In the second half, however, the Ducks have been unable to put away their opponents, posting a -9 goal differential.
“It’s a matter of inches,” sophomore Kyra Fawcett said. “We maybe turn off for a split second.”
It has been a grind on the offensive side of the ball, as well. Oregon has tallied four goals in conference play, which ranks 10th.
Fawcett, the team’s leading scorer this year, said it’s just a matter or converting offensive opportunities.
“For the most part, we have a pretty solid game plan,” Fawcett said.
The back half of the Ducks’ Pac-12 schedule appears lighter than its grueling start to Pac-12 play. Their remaining five opponents have combined for just four wins in conference play thus far. If there is a time to turn around the season and string together some victories, it is now.
“We’ve got to dust off some of our broken hearts, and get back to work,” said Mertz.
Follow Cole Kundich on Twitter @colesportsUO
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