Late Goal The Difference In Defeat

EUGENE — Oregon anticipated a tightly played battle with Washington State on Thursday night at Papé Field, and that’s what developed before the Cougars scored off a corner kick in the 89th minute to win 1-0.

The Ducks (9-3-5, 4-3-2 Pac-12) had a chance to pass WSU and take over fourth place in the conference. But a UO goal was waved off in the first half, and the Cougars converted a set piece with 88:09 on the clock to claim victory.

“When games are tight, set pieces can typically make the difference,” UO coach Graeme Abel said. “We’ve been on the right side of it, and we feel it’s a controllable on both sides of the ball, so we’ll have to go back and look at where the  breakdown was, fix it and move on to Sunday.

Oregon will celebrate Senior Day on Sunday, prior to hosting Washington at 1 p.m.

Washington State had allowed just seven goals on the season entering Thursday’s match, and in the early going the Ducks found chances to be few and far between.

That began to change around the 17th minute, when a free kick by Mia Palmer created a chance but no teammate could get a head on it. Then, in the 20th minute, Kess Elmore collected the ball up the left wing and fired a crosser that Ally Cook headed toward the WSU goal.

UO forward Eden Hardy, a WSU defender and the keeper all converged on the ball, which caromed into the net as players collided. The play was ruled no goal.
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UO keeper Leah Freeman punched away a corner kick and then smothered a rebound attempt in the 31st minute, and she saved a shot from point-blank range in the 33rd minute. The game remained scoreless at halftime.

Chances were less frequent for Oregon after halftime, and Washington State used a free kick in the 85th minute to set up a point-blank shot that was sent wide of the goal. A UO corner kick a minute later resulted in a header by Chardonnay Curran that missed the target, and it wasn’t long after that Washington State broke through for the game’s lone goal.

“We didn’t turn their back line enough,” Abel said. “I thought we did a little bit early on, but then they dropped out and we didn’t find the wide areas 1-v-1 enough in the second half. We created the chance where we had the goal ruled off because we got 1-v-1 in the wide areas, and we didn’t do that enough in the second half. Fair play to them — two real similar game plans, you saw how tight the game was, and they were able to execute on a set piece.”

UO alum Marissa Everett attended the match along with her Portland Thorns teammate Morgan Weaver, a WSU alum. … The Ducks played without midfielder Maya Hahn. She was replaced in the lineup by Caitlin Shaw, who played only 38 minutes before having to be helped off the field herself. … The Ducks were shut out for just the second time this season.

The Ducks host Washington on Sunday (1 p.m., Oregon Live Stream).