The Boise State Broncos didn’t create many chances against the Oregon Ducks on Sunday afternoon, but the ones they did create were more than enough as BSU handed Oregon its first loss of the season by a score of 3 - 1, breaking the Ducks 4 game unbeaten streak.
Oregon dominated the game everywhere but on the scoreboard taking more than twice as many shots as BSU and creating 8 corner kicks in the first half alone. But the Ducks failed to convert on all but one scoring chance. Despite forcing some diving saves from Broncos goalkeeper Junior Genevieve Crenshaw, most of Oregon’s shots were high, or wide, or blocked by defenders.
The Ducks faced a number of challenges coming into the game. Oregon has lost 8 players to injury in the pre-season or its first 4 games, including 4 starters. Oregon Coach Graeme Abel noted before the game that the healthy players had responded well, working hard to make sure they knew what roles they had been unexpectedly thrust into. Players used, for instance, to a substitute’s responsibilities might now be called upon to start games, and/or to play much longer stretches than expected and potentially at unfamiliar positions.
Boise State likes to play a “possession” style of soccer, controlling the ball and mostly working the ball slowly up the field through a series of passes. This worked beautifully for the Broncos early and resulted in their first goal after only 2 minutes of play. Boise worked the ball up the left side and into the 18-yard box, and a defender and Oregon goalkeeper Leah Freeman - who may have been a bit slow coming off her line to cut off the challenge - couldn’t prevent a weak shot from deflecting off them and into the net.
To try and disrupt Boise’s style, Oregon began pressing upfield in Boise State’s end. The Ducks has some success forcing Boise to turn the ball over which led to a nice breakaway and shot from Sophomore Forward Kaitlyn Paculba on a through pass from Midfielder Zoe Hasenauer. Paculba’s shot grazed off the outside of the right post. Another nice pass to Freshman striker Ajanae Respass in the 18-yard box was cleared by Boise State. Coach Abel could be heard yelling “Pressure!” during most of the first half.
Unfortunately, Boise State scored again before Oregon could take advantage of their disruption of the Broncos game plan. In the 18th minute, Oregon failed to clear the ball adequately from in front of their own goal, and Boise State’s control of that ball led to a 20-yard right-footed shot between two Oregon defenders into the left bottom corner of the Oregon goal. This gave the Broncos a 2 - 0 lead, a lead that in a generally low-scoring sport can be difficult to overcome.
Oregon continued to dominate possession, and pressured Boise State in their defensive end for the remainder of the first half. Oregon could not score but racked up eight corner kicks and a couple of dangerous free kicks in the first half, including 4 corner kicks in just over a minute of play. Typically these kinds of “set plays” give teams their best chances to score.
When the halftime whistle sounded, the Ducks had racked up a 4 - 3 advantage in shots on goal, 8 - 1 in corner kicks and had possession for 60 percent of the half. The scoreline didn’t reflect this dominance as the Ducks simply could not get a quality shot away that Crenshaw couldn’t reach
The second half began with more of the same. The game had a back-and-forth quality early in the half, with Boise State launching a couple of shots and Oregon pressing upfield and earning corner kicks. Oregon’s best chance to score up until this point came in the 58th minute, as Senior Defender Jordan Snyder - who scored the tying goal against Texas this week, her first collegiate goal - hit the right post from close range. The ball caromed tantalizingly across the face of the goal, but a rebound shot from the left side missed wide left.
Snyder wasn’t finished however, finally netting Oregon’s goal in the 63rd minute. Oregon’s pressure created a Bronco turnover, and Snyder was released on a pass up the right side of the 18-yard box and snuck a shot into the top right corner of the goal despite pressure from two Boise defenders and Crenshaw’s effort to close down on the play. Oregon now trailed only 2 - 1 and was right back in it.
The Ducks continued to press, with Freshman Defender Anna Emperador sending a header just wide left on an Oregon corner kick. The teams traded corner kicks and free kicks, and Boise State finally put the game away with a 78th minute goal. A cross into the box from the right side was blocked by Oregon, but bounced right to a Boise player, who slotted a shot into the left side of the goal, making the score now 3 - 1 Boise.
Oregon was able to generate a few more chances as time ticked away, but never really threatened to score.
Boise State improved to 2-2-1 (W-L-T) while Oregon fell to 1-1-3. For the game the Ducks outshot the Broncos 19 - 9 and had 12 corner kicks to Boise’s 1. Snyder’s goal was assisted by Caitlyn McCulloch and Respass. Freshman Midfielder Livvy Moore was helped off the field in the first half with what looked like a knee injury, possibly adding to the Ducks woes.
The Ducks are next in action on Thursday, September 8 at home against Santa Clara. That game begins at 6:00 pm and is available on Pac-12 Networks.