The Ducks’ 2016 soccer season officially began Friday with a 1-1 draw in an exhibition match against Portland State, and the team is ready to start their “revolution.”
This is the nickname — and subsequent hashtag — that they have chosen to use when describing their intent for a comeback season, after finishing the 2015 season with a disappointing 6-13-0 record.
“I think this year we finally got it in our heads, and we’re just ready to work,” said senior midfielder Maryn Beutler. “I just really think that this is the year for us to make the [NCAA] tournament.”
Last season’s top scorers included midfielder Marissa Everett, who finished with four goals, and forward Kyra Fawcett, who finished with three. The duo, now sophomores, also scored eight points apiece last year, tying for first on the team.
Oregon’s roster is heavy with underclassmen: the Ducks signed eight freshmen from this year’s incoming class. Still, the camaraderie is evident as the seniors take on the role of mentoring the new faces on the team.
“If there’s any advice that I’ve been able to give these younger [players], it’s that you need every single one of these players on this team to work hard,” said Beutler. “And you need every single one of them to win a game, no matter what your role is on the team.”
Senior defender Ashlee Schulz said she works to remind her young teammates to have confidence in themselves.
“Just reminding them that they’re good enough to be here. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be here,” Schulz said.
Also new to the team is assistant coach Katie Hultin, who came to Eugene from the University of Illinois, where she worked with goalkeepers. With the Ducks, Hultin still specializes in defensive coaching. Last year, the Ducks finished eighth in the Pac-12 in goals allowed with 1.26 a game.
“Not only is her knowledge off the charts, but her ability to connect with her players in such a short amount of time has been really rewarding for me,” head coach Kat Mertz said.
The Ducks’ Pac-12 schedule begins on Sept. 24 when they play at Stanford. The Cardinals finished last season with a 19-2 record. USC went 15-6 in 2015. The two teams figure to be the conference’s toughest opponents.
“The Pac-12 is a beast,” Mertz said. “And it’s a fun beast. It’s awesome. I mean, that’s why all of these players — and coaches — made the choice to come be at the highest level.”
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