Soccer Drops Season Opener

By Rob Moseley

EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon got a strong performance in goal and the program’s talented freshman class got its first taste of collegiate action, but ultimately the Ducks dropped their 2023 season opener at Papé Field on Thursday to Baylor, 2-0.

Making her first appearance since 2021, Maddy Goldberg had a career-high seven saves. She helped keep the game scoreless into the second half, until the Bears broke through with goals in the 66th and 74th minutes.

More than half of Oregon’s 15-player freshman class played Thursday, including four starters. The class provided all five of the Ducks’ shots in the match.

“I just said to the team, there’s lessons that came from today and they’re all fixable,” UO coach Graeme Abel said. “It may be harsh for these guys to take this on the chin right away in their first actual college game. But it’s OK, we just need to make sure we continue to move forward.”

How It Happened: The first shot on goal of the night was by the Ducks, off the foot of freshman Mia McSweeney in the 19th minute. That ended up being the only shot of the half for Oregon, but Goldberg made four saves to keep the game knotted at 0-0 entering halftime.

Goldberg made her first start since Sept. 3, 2021, having redshirted the 2022 season behind Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year Leah Freeman.

“Oregon produces good goalkeepers, and it’s the environment here that makes them,” Abel said. “She stayed committed to it and she did really well.”

Goldberg had a spectacular save on a header from point-blank range in the 61st minute, and she saved a shot off the rebound as well. But the Bears broke through minutes later, and added some insurance in the 74th minute.

“It’s nice to be out there and make some saves; the defense makes it a lot easier, too,” Goldberg said. “But we let in two goals. Still not satisfied.”

The Ducks put together a nice sequence in the 77th minute when freshman Cameron Bourne got off a shot that required an athletic save by the Baylor keeper. That led to consecutive corner kicks for Oregon, but the Ducks couldn’t put the ball into the net and ultimately were unable to cut into the 2-0 deficit.

“I don’t think our 1-v-1 defending was good enough,” Abel said. “They outplayed our first line of pressure. We never kind of influenced the ball, and so they were able to play past that line of pressure. It continued through the second half, and then as we got tired we kept on jumping in too early and then they were able to play past us.”

Notable: The eight freshmen who made their Oregon debuts Thursday night were starters McSweeney, Bourne, Myra Schneider and Kristen Conti, and reserves Grace Mensah, Ryann Reynolds, Lauren Kenny and Ella Osmussen. … Both Callan Harrington and Livvy Moore returned to the field for the first time since being injured early last season. … The Ducks play their next four matches on the road, returning home next against California Baptist on Sept. 7.


Sophomore goalkeeper Maddy Goldberg on taking over in goal from Leah Freeman

“It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been thankful to learn under Leah my last two years, so it was nice. It felt really good to be on the field — comfortable, comfortable with the defense. I think there’s still some things we need to work on but, happy being out there.”

Head coach Graeme Abel on the process of moving on from Thursday’s match

“The good thing about (having only) one game this weekend is, we got a couple more training days and we’re able to take a look at some of those things. I think if we can be a little bit more aggressive in terms of releasing and reading pieces — you know, they come from environments with a lot of man-mark and so you saw a lot of that today, where they were following players. So once we start to make some of those adjustments, you’ll see that start to take shape pretty quickly.”

Up Next: The Ducks play at No. 8 Arkansas next Thursday (4:30 p.m., SEC+).