Frigid temperatures and piercing rain have accompanied Oregon soccer practices this week, but the timing couldn’t be better.
The Arizona schools come to town for the Ducks’ last home stand of the 2010 season this Friday and Sunday. Head coach Tara Erickson has said she hopes the typical October conditions in Eugene will be a factor.
“Bring on the rain,” Erickson said. “We saw from the Southern California schools that the conditions up here in the Pacific Northwest do play a factor.”
Oregon (5-8-3) surmounted the soggy conditions and picked up a win last Sunday in Pullman. The 3-1 victory against Washington State was the first Pac-10 win since Nov. 6, 2009, against the Wildcats.
Arizona (5-9-2) has lost four of its last five matches. Coming into Friday’s contest, the Wildcats are still searching for their first road win. Nevertheless, Erickson said the Ducks would do well to remember how streaky the Wildcats can be.
“They’re very up-and-down, but they have a bunch of young, talented players,” she said.
The X-factor on Friday night could very likely be the weather. The Ducks topped Arizona last year in Tucson with roughly identical lineups to the ones they show this season. Arizona is without junior forward Renae Cuellar, and the Ducks are without junior defender Taylor Jones because of a knee injury. Sophomore Julie Armstrong is also questionable after suffering a head injury last weekend in Washington.
Injuries will be an issue on both sides of the ball, but freely exchanging personnel on the pitch has been standard in 2010 for the Ducks.
Rather than get dejected, sophomore Kelsey Hones set the tone for how her team would persevere early in the season.
“I think since our team’s small this year, anybody can be comfortable at any position and work well in it,” Hones said.
The Ducks’ fluidity on the field has been due in large part to senior forward Jen Stoltenberg. Stoltenberg, as well as four other seniors, will be honored on Sunday afternoon against Arizona State.
The match will be the seniors’ final contest played on Pape Field. Erickson did not devalue the occasion, but pointed out that a more pressing issue accompanied Sunday’s contest.
“I like senior day,” Erickson said. “But I try not to make it too big of an emotional deal because it’s eight minutes before kickoff.”
Senior forward Rianna Mansfield noted that Oregon has a great chance to regain ground in the Pac-10 with a good weekend.
“There are so many 2-2 teams in the conference,” Mansfield said. “If we put together a good final two weeks, we could find ourselves in a great spot.”
The Ducks most recently split a weekend series with the Washington schools. They dropped a 2-0 decision to the Huskies before ousting the Cougars 3-1 in Pullman.
With a pair of goals on Sunday against Washington State, Stoltenberg tied the all time leader for career points at Oregon with 83. Stoltenberg already holds the lead for career assists with 17. Aside from the accolades for Stoltenberg, the other 10 players on the field received ample praise from Erickson.
“We had a great effort from a lot of players not named (Stoltenberg),” Erickson said.
Freshman Brynne Konkel scored the game-winner against Washington State and junior goalkeeper Lindsay Parlee blocked six shots in the victory.
Kickoff from Pape Field is set for 7 p.m. Friday, and the senior day game kicks off at 12 p.m. Sunday.