Ducks soccer fell short of a ‘revolution’ in 2016
It was Oregon soccer’s theme in 2016. Its players, coaching staff and fans, however, will have to wait until next season to see if the Ducks can become a threat in the Pac-12 and NCAA.
Oregon’s 1-0 loss on Friday to Oregon State was the finishing touch to a season that saw the team go 8-10-2 overall.
In 2016, it was a tale of two halves. The Ducks started their season on a roll, going 6-2-1 in nonconference play. The strong start included a signature win over Nebraska, which finished the season ranked in the Top 20 of the NCAA RPI.
“There were some good moments for us starting the season with a bang,” head coach Kat Mertz said Friday.
Oregon’s toughest task lied ahead in Pac-12 play. The Ducks were well aware they would have to earn their success through play in “the conference of champions.”
“We have to treat each [Pac-12] game like a championship game,” said Mertz following their Sept. 19 match vs. Portland.
The Pac-12 schedule ultimately got the best of Oregon, which recorded a 2-8-1 mark within the conference.
Oregon had a hard-hitting start to Pac-12 play. The first five games were all against teams that finished the season in the NCAA RPI Top 30, including No. 1 Stanford and No. 4 USC. The Ducks bounced back with a weekend sweep of Arizona and Arizona State but couldn’t sustain the momentum. They lost to Washington and tied with Washington State before dropping the season finale to Oregon State.
Oregon was either tied or led at halftime in nine of its Pac-12 games but was only able to walk away with two wins in. One can look at the level of competitiveness shown by the Ducks; they had a chance to take the lead or win more times than not.
“The resiliency from the entire team was a good showing for the program,” Mertz said.
One of the big positives from 2016 was the Ducks’ ability to find the back of the net. Their 26 goals were the most for the program since the 2010 season, when they scored 29 times.
Oregon is optimistic the continuity of the roster will allow next year’s team to start strong.
“I think the seniors really passed on the willingness to believe in the program,” Mertz said.
The Ducks’ 8-10-2 record, along with its 2-8-1 Pac-12 mark, was good for 10th place in the conference. Oregon also finished last season 10th.
Oregon’s 2016 team reached new heights. With most of the top players returning next fall, the Ducks and Mertz feel confident in their future. They won’t soon abandon their “revolution” mentality.
“The revolution doesn’t stop. It continues,” said Mertz.
Follow Cole Kundich on Twitter @ckundich
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