National Signing Day proved to be a big one for Oregon soccer as the Ducks announced the additions of eight players in the incoming freshman class.
The 2017 recruiting class features players from California, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii. The Ducks also signed Eugene native Mary Jane Erving from Sheldon High School.
Along with Erving, Sarah Preston (Menlo Park, California, Brooke Chandler (Sammamish, Washington), Mia Palmer (Portland, Oregon), Chardonnay Curran (Ewa Beach, Hawaii), True Dydasco (Honolulu, Hawaii), Hannah Taylor (Edmonds, Washington) and Eden Hardy (Arcadia, California) all join the Ducks for next season.
“I’m extremely excited about the talent of our incoming 2017 class,” head coach Kat Mertz said in a release. “We have a good blend of attackers, midfielders, defenders and goalkeepers that will be able to help us continue our rise in the Pac-12. Overall, the class will bring excitement and energy to our program, will contribute on the field and in the classroom, and will be positive role models within the community.”
The Ducks are coming off an 8-10-2 season in which Oregon narrowly missed out on its inaugural berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Oregon added also eight freshman last year. Among them, Jayne Lydiatt, Katelyn Carter, Alyssa Hinojosa and Jessica Yu, played important roles for the Ducks either starting or coming off the bench.
With seniors Marlo Sweatman, Maryn Beutler, Ashlee Schulz, Shaylee Miner and Lauren Holden all ending their careers with the Ducks, Mertz needed to bring in reinforcements.
Players range from various positions — from goalkeeper (Preston), several forwards, a midfielder, a defender and to an outside back. Several players are listed as being able to play in multiple positions.
One role Oregon will have to fill will be the center midfield where both Sweatman and Beutler dominated for years at Papé Field.
Mertz can fill their void from within with players like Sofia Chambers and Lydiatt, but incoming freshmen Dydasco and Curran could be important for the Ducks in the center channel.
“True has a great knowledge of the game,” Mertz said of Dydasco in a news release. “She’s a skillful playmaking midfielder and is a strong vocal communicator.”
It is too early to say who will make the biggest impact for the Ducks but there are promising signs with the new class of players.
“Chardonnay is a versatile player and has the ability to impact our team in the midfield,” Mertz said of Curran. “We are looking forward to her technical ability combined with her athleticism.”
Another void left by outgoing seniors is the left-back role dominated by Schulz. The Thurston High School-grad was explosive down the left flank both offensively and defensively and provided a lethal diagonal ball to switch momentum of play.
Though Brianne Parsons saw played often last season due to injury to Schulz and natural rotation, Mertz has added another fullback in Palmer, who played with the U18 U.S. women’s national team.
“Our goal is to keep the most talented local players home in Oregon and we did just that with Mia,” Mertz said. “Mia is an attacking-minded outside back who will add skill and value to our back line.”
Oregon also has added more firepower up top after the Ducks signed three players capable of playing in advanced positions.
Palmer is not the only incomer to have national team experience. Defender Hannah Taylor has spent time with Canada’s youth national teams.
“She is a hard-nosed defender with great skill and the ability to start our attack,” Mertz said of Taylor.
Oregon soccer is in its offseason at the moment as the team prepares for spring friendlies ahead of the fall season.
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow