On Halloween weekend Oregon women’s soccer played host to the Washington State Cougars, falling 2-1 in front of 467 fans after a brief moment of hope early in the second half.
After a slow first half that saw the Cougars (12-5, 5-4 Pac-12) take a 1-0 lead, Oregon (4-13, 1-8) was able to knot things up with a goal from Brook Strawn. However, joy turned to horror just 30 seconds later as WSU was awarded the penalty kick after defender Caitlyn Wong committed a rough tackle inside the box. Kailiana Johnson’s number was called and she was finally able to sneak one in, taking the 2-1 lead.
“It kind of sucks, we worked really hard to score and tie it up,” Oregon freshman Kyra Fawcett said. “A PK is the worst type of goal to lose by.”
The Ducks rallied, but couldn’t score another equalizer as the Cougs claimed the win.
The first chance of the match came via Oregon, as midfielder Maryn Beutler was able to shake free in the middle of the box, redirecting the ball towards goal with a header. She wasn’t able to generate much power behind the chance, watching as Washington State keeper Ella Dederick, the Pac-12 leader in saves, was able to add another to her total.
The Ducks kept up the pressure in the first half, dominating possession as the Cougars were forced to pack it in deep to protect the goal. While Oregon was able to keep the ball, they had trouble turning that into quality shots.
An inability to score is nothing new for the Ducks, as they have had trouble finding the back of the net all season. Coming into the match the Ducks only had 10 goals on the year, half of which were scored by a pair of freshman — Fawcett and Marissa Everett.
In tonight’s match Fawcett was a spark plug off the bench, moving well and opening up passing lanes for her teammates. She ended with a team-high two shots, one of which came in the closing seconds of the game.
In 19th minute Johnson blasted it towards the goal after a botched clearance by the Oregon defense, nearly scoring if not for a diving save from Duck keeper Halla Hinriksdottir to maintain the tie.
That marked a turn in the game as the Cougs began to force the issue, keeping Oregon on its heels. The Cougars finally broke the tie with a 22nd minute goal from Chelsea Harkins, one of the leaders for WSU. Harkins had a nice cut at the top of the box, scoring her first goal of the season in the top right corner.
In the 33rd minute Johnson had another close miss for Washington State with a deep shot. Johnson took advantage of the space the defense gave to her, launching it towards the goal and beating Hinriksdottir, but not the frame, watching as it ricocheted out.
The teams went into halftime with the Cougars leading 1-0.
In the 49th minute Oregon’s Strawn was able to get the equalizer after cleaning up the ball in front of the goal, knocking it in with her head. But the quick answer from Washington State seemed to take the wind out of the Duck sails, as they allowed the Cougars to continue to generate shots.
Oregon head coach Kat Mertz made a tactical change, bringing in more forwards and offensive-minded players to try and find another tying goal. They were able to regain control of the possession battle, but couldn’t find a heartbreaker of their own.
“Late in the game we have been talking about serving the box and getting numbers forward,” Mertz said.
Fawcett had a last second chance on goal, but couldn’t score.
“All I knew was that I was in the right position, so when Taylor got the ball I screamed my head off to get the ball,” Fawcett said. “I took the risk, and it obviously didn’t go where I wanted.”
As a team Oregon ended with 11 shots, six of which were on goal. They didn’t have any corner kicks during the match. WSU now holds a 11-4-5 series lead over the Ducks.
Oregon will next take the field on Sunday, November 1, as it hosts Washington for the final home match of the year. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Follow Christopher Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur