September 15, 2017
EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon soccer shot its way into a win Friday against Montana, 1-0. The Ducks managed to get 15 shots and their speed challenged Montana’s defense all game.
Oregon will look to make its behavior in front of goal a habit, leading into Sunday’s match against Idaho State at 5 p.m.
How it Happened: Oregon took very little time to find the back of the net as sophomore forward Jessica Yu dribbled past a few Montana defenders, striking the ball with her right foot, sliding just inside of the left post for a goal in the fourth minute.
A first career goal for the Sunnyvale, Calif., native sparked the Oregon side to hunt for more. The Ducks ended the half with four more shots on goal.
“It’s been a long time waiting,” Yu said. “Last year I struggled with confidence and having fun. I had to take a deep breath and focus on having fun again.”
Marissa Everett and Sophia Chambers were responsible for setting up Yu for the goal. Their creativity left Yu with the ball at her feet. As the ball slid past the Montana goalkeeper, Yu was happy to celebrate with Everett and Chambers.
“That goal obviously wouldn’t have happened if Marissa [Everett] didn’t play that perfect ball through. Finding those combinations with them has gotten more comfortable as the season has gone on.”
The Ducks’ attack limited Montana’s ability to counter attack in the second half, decreasing the chance for a Grizzly goal and sealing the win for the Ducks.
Although Oregon prevailed with the win, head coach Kat Mertz would like to see her team add to their goal tally to close out games in the future.
“To get a goal in the first three minutes was fantastic but now we just need to get another one of those goals,” Mertz said. “Montana is a good team and I’m sure they will contend for a Big Sky Conference title this year.”
Who Stood Out: Mia Costa, a fullback on paper, but an all-around player by trade showed her skills, sprinting down the right side of the field, creating havoc for the Montana defense. Linked with Oregon’s talented midfield, Costa operated as part of the nucleus for Oregon’s scoring chances Friday.
Costa didn’t forget about her defensive duties and her chance to make a play was successful, clearing the goal line that saved a shot by Montana midfielder Kaitlin Crowell which would have tied the game in the 56th minute.
“My job is to drop for Halla [Hinriksdottir] and make sure nothing gets in the back of the net on set pieces and I’m glad it didn’t,” Costa said. “We all have trust in each other that we can play in any position that we are asked.”
The Ducks earned a clean sheet against the Grizzlies, thanks to senior goalkeeper and captain, Halla Hinriksdottir. The Iceland international played aggressive, showing her athleticism, jumping in the air to save various shots from Montana’s corner kicks and offensive build up. The Grizzlies just had two shots in the first half but became aggressive in the final 45 minutes and challenged Henriksdottir with seven shots.
Notable: Friday’s game had a different feel which possibly came from the later kick off time. Instead of a late afternoon kickoff at Papé Field, the match against Montana began at 7 p.m. under the lights which electrified the fans who cheered loudly for 90 minutes. Head coach Kat Mertz was happy to hear the extra noise.
“I loved it. The fans came out in full force and it’s always fun to play under the lights,” Mertz said. “It was really exciting.”
Oregon earned its first win in five tries against Montana … Halla Hinriksdottir moved into sixth on the UO career list with her 12th career victory … It was also Hinriksdottir’s seventh career shutout, and fourth this season.
Quotable: When mentioning Oregon’s only goal scorer, Jessica Yu, Mertz described the sophomore’s progression since arriving on campus last year.
“It’s unbelievable. That’s college soccer for you,” Mertz said. “You come in as a freshman, work hard, and develop. She’s done film sessions with (associate head coach) Manny [Martins] and extra training sessions. For her to get that goal, hopefully it’s the first of many.”
Up Next: Oregon’s final non-conference match kicks off Sunday against Idaho State at 5 p.m. and will be St. Balderick’s Night, honoring the St. Balderick’s Foundation at Papé Field.