After the Golden Bears scored their first goal via a penalty kick in the 20th minute, they were unstoppable.
California, which ranks No. 10 in the NCAA RPI list, established a clear win of 2-0 over Oregon on Saturday night at Papé Field. The Ducks trail far behind them in 44th place.
This is Oregon’s seventh straight loss. The Ducks’ record is now 0-6-0 in Pac-12 Conference play.
“Every game is a beast,” Oregon head coach Kat Mertz said. “That’s why it’s the conference of champions.”
A heavy thunderstorm, which had been brewing the entire day, parted just in time for the game to start on schedule. The Golden Bears had strong possession of the ball throughout the match, attempting 12 shots. The Ducks, however, could not maintain control over the ball, often having their passes intercepted or kicked out of play. At the end of the match, the Ducks recorded just four attempts on goal.
“It’s hard to prepare for Cal’s set pieces,” Mertz said. “They have 50 some odd trick plays left and right. So for us, I thought we did well.”
The Cal team consists of strong players such as forward Arielle Ship, who earned Pac-12 Player of the Year honors last year, and goalkeeper Emily Boyd, who was named Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week four days ago.
In the second half, Cal launched a fast attack that the Oregon defense could not respond to in time. The Golden Bears executed a perfect cross to land their second goal to lead 2-0.
With three minutes remaining, Oregon midfielder Miranda Schulz took a hard tumble and had to be escorted off the field. Mertz later said that she had landed awkwardly on her knee.
“I thought she played really well today,” Mertz said of Schulz. “She was really going at people, going through things.”
Oregon defender Caitlyn Wong, who returned to the pitch a few weeks ago, was limping at times during the match. Her dogged determination, however, has not gone unnoticed.
“She’s a warrior,” Mertz said. “She definitely leads this team by her commitment and willingness to do whatever it takes. She’s sliding, diving. The poor kid’s had so many surgeries, but she’s the first one to put her body in front of the ball to protect it from the back line.”
Mertz said the team will work on defensive maneuvers such as launching a counter attack and not giving up penalty kicks, while at the same time figuring out a quicker transition that will get the attacking players down the field quicker.
“We’ll dust off our broken hearts a little bit and come back and be ready to work tomorrow,” Mertz said.
Though the Ducks have been up against highly ranked teams, the players are not about to give up anytime soon.
“Just keep fighting, keep our heads up, and keep coming in aggressive and playing hard,” defender Ashlee Schulz said.
Follow Romaine Soh on Twitter @mainetainpls