Oregon’s Kess Elmore converted a Cal turnover into a 4th-minute goal, and the Ducks made it stand up for almost 80 minutes before giving up a late penalty and settling for a 1 – 1 draw this afternoon in Eugene. For most of the game, Oregon played a much more fluid, aggressive style than in recent action, pressuring Cal in their defensive end which is what led to the early Oregon strike. But Oregon could not create other chances despite the pressure. Cal showed good ball skills and superior speed at some positions and dominated the first half of play.
Oregon is now getting some of its formerly-injured players back at least for limited action, including Elmore, Ajanae Respass, Croix Soto and Caitlin Shaw. Having more players available allows the Ducks to play a more pressing style in certain situations or against teams that tend to wilt under pressure. Cal stood up well to Oregon’s pressure, generally, especially in the first half. As they have done in many recent games, Oregon’s defenders and goalkeeper Leah Freeman took on all comers, with Freeman again very solid in goal. Cal had good success moving the ball down both wings, and repeatedly crossing the ball into the Oregon 18-yard box. However, Oregon’s defenders blocked shots and cleared crosses successfully throughout the half, and Freeman was there to save the 3 Cal shots that were on goal. For the half, Cal outshot Oregon 10 – 1 and had 6 corner kicks to Oregon’s 1. These numbers are generally in-line with what the Ducks have been experiencing the last several weeks.
In the second half, Oregon ramped up its offensive pressure on Cal early. Oregon had a good run down the left side of the field which resulted in a cross into the side netting shortly after a shot from the left that was at the Cal goalkeeper. In the 61st minute, Oregon had a great sequence, stringing together passes while working the ball upfield and ultimately resulting in an Oregon corner kick when Cal had to clear the ball over the endline. It doesn’t show up in the statistics, but for the first 30 minutes of the second half the game was played pretty evenly, with both teams having promising possessions they ultimately couldn’t convert into goals.
The entire tenor of the game changed in the 72nd minute when Oregon’s Chai Cortez received her second yellow card caution of the game and was ejected. (Note: yellow cards are generally given out for very hard fouls or repeated fouling by a player. Two yellow cards equal a red card. “Straight Red” cards and instant ejections are sometimes given for particularly egregious fouls, even if the player has no previous yellow cards in the game). Cortez had picked up her first yellow card for a foul in the 41st minute of the first half. This meant that Oregon would have to finish the game with only 10 players, one fewer than the Bears.
On paper playing 10 on 11, while certainly a disadvantage, does not have to lead to goals for the opposition. Oregon has had plenty of games recently where they moved players back into their defensive half and just tried to keep the opposition from scoring. With Oregon nursing its one-goal lead, the Ducks didn’t need to score again but did need to continue playing good defense. Oregon did well for about 10 minutes after Cortez’s ejection but in the 82nd minute, Bel Rolley chopped down a Cal player in the penalty box and the Golden Bears earned a penalty kick which tied the game 1 – 1.
An energized Cal team continued to seek the game-winning goal and almost had it in the 86th minute when a goal was called back for offsides on the Bears. Freeman made another spectacular save in the 87th minute on a Cal shot from the right, as she dove to her right and pushed the ball toward the left post and out for a Cal corner. A final shot from Cal in the 89th minute was right at Freeman and the game was over.
For the game, Cal outshot Oregon 24 – 5 and had 14 corner kicks to Oregon’s 2. The Ducks are now 4-6-6 (W-L-T) overall and 2-4-2 in the Pac-12. The Golden Bears are now 9-4-4 and 4-3-1 in the Conference.
Oregon next goes on the road to face the Arizona schools, facing the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe this Thursday evening, October 27 at 7:00 pm.