Oregon women’s soccer fell to the North Carolina State Wolfpack by a score of 4-1 in the first match of the 2017 season on Friday night at Pape field.
NC State came out strong in the first half. Midfielder Paige Griffiths scored in the seventh minute to give the Wolfpack an early 1-0 lead. Kristina Schuster added to her team’s lead in the 26th minute with a second goal. The Ducks had several chances to knot up the game, but failed to convert. NC State’s defense seemed to have Oregon’s number and stifled every attempt from the Ducks in the first half.
After halftime, the two teams battled to a stalemate for 15 minutes, neither side able to break the other. In the 61st minute, though, NC State struck again. Kia Rankin delivered a strike to make it 3-0 in favor of the Wolfpack.
The Ducks battled back in the 67th minute, however. Mia Costa sent a low cross into the box, where Marissa Everett let the ball pass by her. Brianne Parsons was right there and sent the ball into the back of the net for the Ducks’ first goal of the season. The score was also Parsons’ first goal as a member of the Ducks.
“I was just fortunate enough to get on the end of Mia Costa’s ball,” Parsons said. “It was a great cross, and I think Marissa dummied it which was just the most selfless thing. I just got lucky and tapped it in.”
Despite the second-half strike, the Ducks were unable to cut into the Wolfpack’s lead any further and went on to concede a fourth and final goal in the 85th minute. For Oregon head coach Kat Mertz, it was clear that the Ducks’ struggles on their back line were to blame for the loss.
“They had three shots in the first half, and two goals,” Mertz said. “We’re not gonna win if we give up those soft goals.”
She also identified the rushed tempo of her team’s possessions as a key area for improvement. Despite the loss, Mertz remained positive looking forward.
“The good news is, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,” Mertz said. “I’ve seen plenty of teams go back to work, which we’re gonna have to do. We’re gonna focus, regroup, and get our confidence back up.”
The Ducks will look to rebound on at Papé field on Sunday when they face the Kansas State Wildcats at 1 p.m.
Follow Aaron Alter on Twitter @aaronalter95