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Oregon Soccer: Ducks Take The Season Opener

Oregon prevails 2-0 over the New Mexico State Aggies

Morgan L. Blackwell

Oregon Ducks soccer opened their season last night against the New Mexico State Aggies, winning the opener 2-0.

The Aggies were as physical as characterized by head coach Graeme Abel before the game, in his media comments on Tuesday. The Ducks earned a shutout, but the Aggies didn’t exactly roll over for Oregon. NMS is a team that handles the ball well, and their backside and midfield passing is very good. Their passing was especially good in the first 20 or 25 minutes of the match - short, accurate passing that moved the ball well. Oregon adjusted better after that; steadily, to the point where the Aggies’ passing was being regularly disrupted in the last 15 or 20 minutes of the match.

Morgan L. Blackwell

Throughout the game, however, Oregon’s back line was the wall that stopped the NMS attack. During the five times that the Aggies had a scoring opportunity their shots were not coverted, and Oregon goalkeeper Leah Freeman was not really tested save for a high shot in the 2nd half that she blocked at the top of the goal.

Callan Harrington scored the game’s first goal, 40 minutes into the game, off assists by Livvy Moore and True Dydasco.

The goal was especially satisfying for Harrington, who has not played since a foot injury that kept her out last season. As such, she has not yet played for the Ducks since coming in as a much-heralded scorer in 2020.

Oregon’s second goal was scored in the 89-minute mark by freshman Ajanae Respass. Respass had missed some shots that, by her own admission, she probably should have found net with, but scored on a fantastic second effort:

The Ducks finished with 2 points on eight shots for goal, and the Aggies ended with five shots on goal. Coach Abel had said on Media Day that Oregon is looking for at least a 30% conversion on shots for goal, so the 25% conversion rate for this game falls short of what the Ducks are shooting for. However, it’s the first game of a new season, and there is no disappointment with a shutout win.

Leah Freeman was stellar again in posting the 15th shutout of her career. Except for the one save, Freeman did not appear to be significantly challenged in this match - but the great ones always make it look easy.

Morgan L. Blackwell

Oregon now looks to take the teaching moments from this game into Sunday’s match against San Francisco, where they will be trying to improve upon last season’s closely fought contest that ended in a 2-2 tie.

The Oregon Ducks host the University of San Francisco Dons on Sunday, 8/21, at 2:00 pm. The game will be played at Papé Field and televised on the Pac-12 Network.