Just under a minute into the second half of Oregon women’s lacrosse’s season opener, senior Shannon Williams found fellow senior Julia Taylor in the 8-meter arc. Taylor ditched the ball behind her back and straight into Mercer’s goal. Oregon won the following draw and just twenty-seconds later, Taylor scored another, her third of the game, to extend the Ducks’ 5-3 lead at the start of the half to 7-3.
After Taylor’s tone-setter in the first minute of the second half, Oregon outpaced Mercer 8-3 in the half, to defeat the Bears 13-6 in head coach Chelsea Gamble’s first game in charge.
“I think they just started to get into more of a routine and a grind,” Gamble said. “I think they helped give us some momentum and our defense held us down on the other end.”
With a young roster, four freshman earned spots in the starting 12 for the Ducks, including goalie Rachel Hall, who earned five saves. Freshmen Jamie Leval and Carlie Leach each scored their first collegiate goals.
Williams said she told the freshmen to calm down and enjoy the first game.
“It flies by and it’s crazy that senior year is already here, so just enjoying every second,” Williams said. “It’s hard to do freshman year; you’re just trying to adjust.”
Meanwhile, Taylor and sophomore Claire Domshick earned team-high three points each. Domshick, who scored just two goals last season, set a new season-high record.
“My teammates push me every day at practice, so I credit them for kicking my butt every day,” Domshick said.
The Bears opened scoring with a free position goal in the first four minutes, their only lead of the game, but three-and-a-half minutes later, Leval registered the Ducks’ first goal of the season and her first collegiate goal.
Back-to-back goals from Domshick took the lead for the Ducks off a free position shot and widened it to 3-1 off an assist from Williams.
With goals from Taylor and sophomore Emily Munro to match two from Mercer, Oregon led into the half 5-3. Williams had both of Oregon’s two assist, while, Oregon outshot Mercer 17-13 with 12 of those on goal, compared to the Bears’ nine on goal.
After the break, Taylor’s back-to-back goals earned the senior a hat-trick, to extend the Oregon lead to five. Williams registered her fourth assist in freshman Carlie Leach’s first collegiate goal, and her fifth off a ditch to Munro, her second of the game. Williams finished with a game-high five assists.
“She’s one that’s a triple-threat for us,” Gamble said. “She’s really just been able to continue to meld that type of chemistry with the young ones and get them to believe in her and she’s going to continue to believe in them and set them up for success. it was fun to see her throwing the ball into the inside.”
The Ducks finished with a seven-point lead to secure the victory, before heading to Las Vegas to play San Diego State on Friday and Fresno State on Sunday.
Follow Sierra Webster on Twitter @WebsterSierraE.