As they have in several recent games, Oregon’s defense absorbed a tremendous amount of pressure tonight against Washington State. While an early Oregon goal by Trinity Morales earned the Ducks a great start, they ultimately couldn’t hold the lead. Washington State scored early in the second half and the game ultimately ended in a 1 – 1 draw. It was another good night for Oregon goalkeeper Leah Freeman and the Oregon defense. Freeman made 10 saves and the Cougars peppered Oregon with 27 total shots. Oregon had just 7 shots.
The Duck jumped ahead 1 – 0 on the early strike from Morales, Oregon’s first goal in more than 300 minutes of Pac-12 play (note: the goal credited to Oregon in the Utah win was an “own goal” scored by the Utes). On the play, Morales set up camp inside the Cougars 6-yard box and received a pinpoint cross. Her initial shot was blocked, but Morales kept after it and scored the rebound goal.
Incredibly, Oregon did not have another shot for the remaining 35 minutes of the first half, content as they have been in several recent games to sit back, absorb pressure and hope for a quick counterattack. Freeman was certainly up to the task, making some truly amazing cat-like saves on close-in Washington State chances, such as this one in the 25th minute.
Despite Washington State’s relative domination of play, Oregon did not allow a goal and the Ducks went into the halftime break still ahead 1 – 0.
Not much changed as the teams retook the field for the second half. Oregon earned their first corner kick of the game almost immediately but could not direct a shot on goal from it. Washington State soon regained control of the game, getting off 3 shots and then finally the tying goal in the 53rd minute. The Ducks earned shots from Lexi Romero and Morales in the 61st minute, but one was blocked, and one was off target. Zoe Hasenauer had Oregon’s only other shot of the half which also failed to find the net. Freeman was frequently brilliant in the net throughout the game including this great reaction save in the 67th minute.
For the game, Freeman made 10 saves on 11 Washington State shots on goal. The Cougars out-shot Oregon 27 – 7 and had 11 shots on goal to Oregon’s 2. The Cougars also earned 7 corner kicks to Oregon’s 3, all of which reflect Washington State’s control of the game and continued possession and pressure in the Oregon defensive end.
Oregon was again without leading scorer Ajanae Respass and other players suffering with injuries. The Ducks very likely have to continue to play the style they are employing, allowing opponents to bring the game to them, holding their defensive line and trying to score on a counterattack rush. Freeman’s quality allows this strategy to have a chance at success seemingly against most of their remaining Conference opponents.
Oregon’s season record now stands at 4-5-5 (W-L-T) and 2-3-1 in Conference. The Cougars are 8-3-3 and 2-2-2. The Ducks come home next to play Stanford on Thursday, October 20. The Cardinal upset #1 ranked UCLA tonight 1 – 0 and will provide a stern test for Oregon’s defense.