The Oregon women’s soccer team defeated the Kansas State Wildcats 2-0 at Papé Field on Sunday, moving the Ducks to 1-1 on the season.
Junior Marissa Everett scored both goals for Oregon, one on each side of halftime. She scored one goal all of last season and four in her freshman year in 2015.
The Ducks were dominant out of the gate, taking 12 shots on goal to the Wildcats’ two. The game remained scoreless until the 23rd minute.
A Kansas State foul gave the Ducks a free kick at the top of the box, and Everett stepped up to take it. She proceeded to curl the ball into the upper right corner, where Kansas State goalkeeper Miranda Larkin was unable to reach it. It was a perfectly placed shot, and one that Everett knew she was ready to take.
“I’ve been practicing that all summer,” Everett said. “It was nice to finally be able to show it in a game.”
The Ducks held the Wildcats at bay, and entered the second half with a 1-0 lead.
In the 49th minute, Everett struck again. Taking the ball at midfield, she dribbled through and around the Wildcats’ defense. From 20 yards out, she fired a low shot into the corner of the net to widen the Ducks’ lead to 2-0.
“When I got dribbling, I kinda just only saw the goal,” Everett said. “I just beelined right to it.”
The goal also made Everett one of only 31 players in Oregon history to notch a multi-goal game. The Ducks wouldn’t score again, but held the Wildcats scoreless, giving the team its first win of the 2017 season.
While Everett scored the goals, she was far from the only Duck with a strong performance. Freshman Chardonnay Curran didn’t manage a goal, but her combination of speed and footwork gave the Wildcats’ defense constant trouble. Also impressive was Jessica Yu, whose hard, physical play led to three shots on goal.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the Ducks’ performance was that of their defense. Their back line had struggled against North Carolina State, allowing four goals.
“We knew we had to bounce back from the last game defensively,” sophomore defender Alyssa Hinojosa said. “We want to defend Oregon, we want to show everyone that this is our field.”
Kansas State only managed to get off five shots. Hinojosa was instrumental in the stifling performance, playing the full 90 minutes and constantly shutting down the Wildcats’ attempts to level the game. Making the defense’s performance even more impressive was the fact that they were without redshirt senior and captain Caitlyn Wong, one of the key pieces of their back line. While Wong didn’t take the field, her presence was very much felt by her teammates.
“I tried to listen to her, she’s a really big role model for me,” Hinojosa said. “I thought the coaches were yelling at me, but it was my teammate helping me and having my back.”
For Ducks head coach Kat Mertz, the day’s performance was exactly what the team worked on after the NC State game.
“We challenged to be a little grittier, to come out with some energy,” Mertz said. “Getting 20-odd some shots and two goals, and none against? It’s awesome.”
Mertz was also happy with Everett’s two-goal performance, though not surprised.
“That’s the Marissa we know at practice,” Mertz said. “For her, it’s just going out there and having fun. That’s the biggest component for her. When she’s enjoying it, having fun with her teammates, she really shines on the field.”
Going into a three-game stretch of road games, maintaining that performance will be key for the Ducks in the coming games.
Next up for Oregon is a trip to College Station, Texas, where they will face the Texas A&M Aggies on August 26th.
Follow Aaron Alter on Twitter @aaronalter95