The clock trickled down to zero and the final whistle blew.
Oregon’s sophomore Lexy Biller dropped her stick and turned around. She immediately found goalie Brittany Read and without a second to wait, she jumped into the senior’s arms.
It was a day to celebrate Oregon’s seniors, as four of them earned hat tricks while Read defended 16 of USC’s shots on goal in Oregon’s senior day at its final home game of the season. The Ducks (8-5, 4-3) upset No. 16 USC 18-11 on Sunday afternoon at Pape Field. The victory marked four straight wins for Oregon, and was the Ducks first win over a ranked opponent since 2008.
“I think it was a very emotional day with it being senior day,” head coach Katrina Dowd said. “If you look at our scoring our seniors really put the ball in the back of the net today, and I just think our team plays for them. They’re our heart and soul, and I couldn’t be prouder. I couldn’t plan it or write it up any more special for them.”
In their last game at Pape Field, the Oregon seniors scored 15 of the team’s 18 goals. Jojo Hesketh was one of three seniors to score three goals in the first half. She led each team with five goals at the final whistle.
“I got my family and I’m going to do whatever I can to score,” Hesketh said.
In a rainy first half, USC (7-7, 5-4) claimed an early 1-0 lead. Duck senior Jill Zubillaga scored the tying goal less than a minute afterward. Ten minutes prior she had stood in front of the 217-person crowd and began the senior day festivities by singing the national anthem.
“It was awesome,” Zubillaga said. “It was something that I have been asked to do for a while. My teammates were super supportive, so it was a great experience.”
The Ducks scored nine consecutive goals after Zubillaga’s — two more than the amount they scored in their loss against the Trojans back in March. USC could not keep up with Oregon’s momentum, and became loosely aggressive, racking up 15 fouls within the first 15 minutes.
In fact, the Trojans didn’t find another goal until the last two and a half minutes of the half, when they scored two to end the half down by seven.
“They’re always dangerous, and they recruit extremely well,” Dowd said. “So, to be able to get a win against them is huge.”
The second half started with blue skies, as the Trojans took advantage of the weather’s familiarity, and scored six-straight goals. But it would never be enough for the comeback they were looking for, as the Ducks’ lead never dropped below five.
Behind Hesketh’s five goals, Mariah Gatti scored four, and Zubillaga and Natalie Modly each scored three as well for the Ducks.
After the game, the rest of the Oregon team rushed from the sideline, to join Biller and Read in celebrating. The crowd jumped to its feet in a standing ovation and erupted in cheers.
Oregon will travel to Berkeley, Calif. next week to play the California Bears on Friday, April 13 at 5 p.m.
Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter @maggie_vanoni