Oregon Ducks Explode In Women’s Soccer Opener

EUGENE – Year one of Graeme Abel’s tenure at Oregon ended with the Ducks’ first winning record in 15 years. Year two began with the UO women’s highest scoring season opener in nearly 25 years.

Oregon exploded for five goals Thursday and posted a clean sheet defensively to beat visiting Fresno State at Papé Field, 5-0. The five goals were the most for the program in a single game since 2010, and the most by the Ducks in a season opener since 1997.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Mia Palmer, a fifth-year defender from Portland who scored the Ducks’ first goal of the season. “It’s been a while since we’ve scored five goals like this, and also to have a clean slate, it is a great feeling.”

Palmer got the scoring started in the 15th minute when she received a pass from Chai Cortez perhaps 30 yards away from the goal, near the Oregon bench. Palmer blasted a shot to the far post for a 1-0 lead.

Ally Cook, who led the Ducks with four goals in the spring, is already halfway to that total this fall. She slid in front of the goal to poke home a pass from Zoe Hasenauer in the 23rd minute, and nine minutes later Cook made it 3-0 when she collected a throw-in from Cortez on the left side and tucked it inside the near post.

“We came out super fast with Mia and Chai linking up and scoring an amazing goal, and that definitely just broke the ice for us,” Cook said. “Having a non-forward score was amazing, and it put the pressure on us (forwards), like, ‘Oh, now we have to figure it out.’ And our mentality was like, no matter what the score is we keep going. We’ve got to show who we are.”

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Eden Hardy made it 4-0 eight minutes into the second half, making a brilliant run to slice through Fresno State’s back line before putting it away.

With the Ducks using every available player in the match, it was freshman Kaitlyn Paculba stuffing home a pass that Lara Kirkby chipped between two defenders for Oregon’s final goal of the night.

Cook scored on each of her two shots and now has 11 career goals, one shy of entering the UO career top 10. Palmer’s goal was the third of her career and her first game-winner, and Hasenauer moved into a tie for fourth in UO history with her 12th career assist. Leah Freeman made two saves in goal for the shutout, the sixth of her career.

The Ducks scored the most goals by the program since a 6-1 victory over Butler on Sept. 19, 2010. It was Oregon’s highest-scoring season opener and largest margin of victory in an opener since a 7-2 win over San Francisco State in 1997.

The Ducks play at San Francisco on Sunday at 1 p.m.