After a solid effort against #1-ranked UCLA last Thursday, Oregon’s soccer team had little left in the tank Sunday afternoon, falling to USC in Eugene 4 - 0. Oregon was never really in the game, conceding a 10th-minute penalty and USC goals in the 34th and 38th minutes to fall into a 3 - 0 hole at halftime. The Ducks were unable to generate much offensive pressure, managing only 7 shots for the game, 2 of which were on goal. True freshman Julia Richards started and played the entire 90 minutes in the net. Leah Freeman had to sit out the game due to her straight Red Card ejection against the Bruins and sophomore Maddy Goldberg is out with a wrist injury. Richards acquitted herself well making 12 saves, but the Ducks could not control enough of the play or score to help take the pressure off her.
In the first half, the Trojans controlled possession 61 percent of the time, and that domination showed up on the scoreboard. Early on, the Ducks were hard-pressed to deal with the Trojan’s ball movement, picking up 4 fouls in the first 10 minutes including one in the 18-yard box that led to a penalty, the Trojans first goal and a 1 - 0 lead for the visitors. Oregon was limited to one shot over that period which was saved. In the 16th minute, the Ducks had two promising looks at goal from Ajanae Respass (Oregon’s leading scorer this season) and Chai Cortez, but neither found their mark.
Despite the brief Oregon flurry, USC kept up the offensive pressure, scoring in quick succession in the 34th and 38th minutes as the pressure paid off and Oregon’s defense broke down. With USC now ahead 3 - 0, the teams traded possession and fouls and the Trojans began substituting liberally. A 45th minute save by Richards put the ball over the endline and the Trojans won a corner kick, which Oregon successfully cleared and the half ended USC 3, Oregon 0.
In soccer, a three-goal deficit is extremely difficult to overcome. The Ducks simply could not find the quality passing needed to open up decent shots on goal that might have allowed them to climb back into the game. After more serious USC pressure on Oregon’s defense, including three shots and three corner kicks in the first 10 minutes of the half, the Trojans quickly scored again with a 57th minute goal to go ahead 4 - 0.
The Trojans basically emptied their bench after this fourth goal and Oregon began moving the ball somewhat better, generating shots from Croix Soto, Anna Phillips, Zoe Hasenauer and Anna Emperador over the next 20 minutes, but again none found the back of the net. USC closed out the game with a couple of shots and a corner kick, but mostly passing the ball around to run out the clock.
For the game, USC outshot Oregon 26 - 7 and had 16 shots on goal to Oregon’s 2. The Trojans had 6 corner kicks to Oregon’s 1 and clearly dominated possession, particularly over the first 60 minutes.
Oregon falls to 3-4-4 (W-L-T) overall, and 1-2-0 in the Pac-12. The Trojans improved to 7-1-1 overall and 3-0 in the Conference. The Ducks now will try to get back in the winner’s column as they travel to play Utah and Colorado next week. Oregon faces the Utes on Thursday, October 6 at 5:30 pm and Colorado on Sunday at Noon.