EUGENE, Ore. – The University of Oregon women’s soccer team opened the 2013 season with a bang, as head coach Kat Mertz earned a decisive victory in her debut with the program. The Ducks cruised to a 3-0 win over Portland State Friday evening in front of an announced crowd of 821 at Papé Field.
Three different Ducks found net in the shutout and the Oregon attack threatened Portland State for the entire game. Freshman ShayLee Miner (44’) and sophomores Brooke Strawn (62’) and Maryn Beutler (70’) each scored goals in the season-opening rout. The Ducks held a 20-7 advantage in shots, an 8-2 edge in shots on goal and a 6-2 lead in corner kicks.
Mertz and the Duck’s secured Oregon’s most decisive season-opening victory since a 4-1 win over Boise State in 2003. The Ducks improve to 9-3-1 against Portland State, improving their win streak to seven games over the Vikings.
“My first time with the girls was on Jan. 8th and everything has been building up to this point,” said Mertz. “These girls have been working really hard since I got here. Today, they came out on fire. They played really well, and it was fun to see.”
Oregon held a 13-4 advantage in shots in the first half and took control of the game from the first touch. The Ducks had multiple scoring opportunities in the first half, but it looked like they would enter the break even at 0-0 until freshman ShayLee Miner found the ball at her feet in the perfect moment.
The Ducks earned a corner kick in the 44th minute, and Lilly Archer - who was subbed on in the 39th minute - stepped up to take it. The junior delivered a well-hit ball into the box. The ball skipped through a Viking defender and fell to Miner, who delivered a strike past Portland State goalkeeper Amanda Haluska for the first goal of the season.
“I saw an opening in the defense and the bell went through, I slid in and happened to get on it,” said the Junction City, Ore., native. “It felt great to score in my first game. This was a good result for us to show that are hard work has paid off. Now, we just have to keep the trend going.”
Portland State had three shots in the first five minutes of the second half and looked to pull even, but the Ducks settled back in and resumed their control of the contest.
Junior speedster Bri Pugh and Strawn combined to add to Oregon’s lead in the 62nd minute. Pugh made a great run down the right flank and delivered a cross into the box. Strawn, a 6’1 forward and the tallest player on the pitch, headed the ball into the back of the net from inside the six-yard box after beating her defender to the ball.
Beutler provided the highlight of the game, and what could go down as a highlight goal of the season, with a brilliant individual effort in the 70th minute. The Bend, Ore., native found space in the midfield and decided to test Haluska, who was positioned on top of her box. Beutler’s shot from 30 yards out found the top, right corner of the night and brought the fans to their feet.
“You can’t score the goals you don’t shoot,” said Mertz. “In order to be successful, we talked about taking chances and shots, and we made that a goal of ours. It was great to see 20 shots on the board, three goals for and zero against.”
Junior goalkeeper Abby Steele started between the posts for the Ducks and collected her ninth career shutout. Steele made two saves as the Oregon defense kept the Vikings from threatening often.
Ten different players registered shots for the Ducks, led by Miner (5), Beutler (3) and sophomore Kira Wagoner (3). Mertz used seven substitutes in the win.
Oregon returns to action Sunday, hosting No. 22 Portland. Action will get underway from Papé Field at 5 p.m. (PT).
“It was great to see us come out today focused on the goal at hand, and we will take some momentum into Sunday,” said Mertz. “Portland is a great side, a top-20 team. That’s where we want to be, and in order to get there we have to play these teams. It will be a fun game.”