The Ducks started conference play on a sour note. Defender Scout Libke summed up Friday’s disappointing 2-0 loss to Utah in Oregon’s Pac-12 opener succinctly.
“We put in a lot of effort,” she said. “Everyone was working together, that type of thing but at the end of the day, that’s not going to win games. We have to figure out how to score goals.”
That they do. The Ducks missed several missed opportunities early. They let the Utes take control of the contest when a scramble in front of the Oregon goal allowed Utah’s Harley Speir to rattle home the winning marker at 48:18.
Just seven minutes later, Utah sealed the victory when Leslie Muirhead converted a nice cross from Erin Dalley.
Content at that point to pack in the defense, Utah weathered a number of Oregon chances. However, the Ducks could never quite get the ball on goal.
Neither team offered a barrage of shots to defend. Oregon was credited with only three shots on goal. Utah only had four. Corner kicks were also at a premium, as Utah was again only credited with four and the Ducks with a mere three.
“I thought we dominated them possession wise,” said Libke. “But they (Utah) were gritty and they found the goals. Even the ugliest goals can win you games, and they proved that.”
“We can possess the ball all we want,” said head coach Tara Erickson. “But we have to figure out a way to step in and score the goal. You are not going to get chance after chance.”
Erickson credited Utah for taking advantage of Oregon’s misfortunes.
“I thought Utah stuck to their game plan to pump the ball down the field,” she explained. They were able to find a way to get the ball in the back of the net.”
But the Oregon coach also hopes that her young team can build on the fact they didn’t give up down the stretch, either.
“I have to make sure that as a coach that I show them the positives from the game,” said Erickson. “Because there a lot of positives. There were seven young freshmen out there and they played some good possession soccer, so those are positives. I have got to help them understand the next level of what we are trying to get to and, like I say, keep them positive.”
As for Erickson’s players, they’re ready to put this tough loss behind them in a hurry.
“The Pac-12 goes by so fast,” said forward Julie Armstrong. “You can’t hang on (to the loss) too long or the next game is here.”
Can the Ducks recover from this loss before then?
“I think if we have the right mindset, yeah” said Armstrong. “But we need to get it there first.”
The setback drops Oregon’s season record to 5-4-1. The Ducks will be on the road for their next five matches, starting at UCLA next Friday night.
Oregon’s next home appearance is on Friday, October 21. That’s when the Ducks will host the Washington Huskies at Pape Field beginning at 7:00 pm.
— Rick Morgan for EDN