Curran's Rocket Beats Portland
EUGENE, Ore. — As of Friday, nobody else in the history of Oregon soccer has played in more games for the Ducks than Chardonnay Curran. She made sure the night was memorable for much more than that.
The UO women established the best start to a season in the modern era of the program Friday with a 1-0 victory over Portland before 360 fans at Papé Field. Curran, who was making her 80th career appearance to tie five other Ducks for the program record, provided the winning goal with a rocket from the top of the 18-yard box with less than 8 minutes to play.
"Char is a huge leader on this team; it's no secret," said goalkeeper Leah Freeman, who had three saves for her eighth career shutout. "She's led the team for a long time and she leads it this year. … She pulls through when we need her to pull through."
— Oregon Ducks Soccer (@OregonSoccer) September 18, 2021
How It Happened: The Ducks (4-0-3) controlled play early, creating a chance in the fourth minute on a give-and-go featuring Kess Elmore and Ally Cook that was saved by the Portland keeper. The Ducks maintained momentum for much of the opening half and nearly took the lead in the 37th minute, when a shot by Cook drew the keeper to the post and created an open goal as Kaitlyn Paculba collected the rebound — only to put the shot over the crossbar.
Portland's early chances were generally counterattacks after pushes by the Ducks. But the Pilots created more sustained pressure as the second half unfolded, as they had in a 1-0 victory over Washington earlier in September that featured a goal in the 64th minute.
"We got the team over for a period there and I said to them, they did this against Washington," UO coach Graeme Abel said. "And if we don't change our attitude to how we're going to fight for this, they're going to do the same thing to you guys. So it's our choice: We either get punched or we get to punch. It's one or the other."
The message got through, and Oregon regained momentum as the second half wore on. Cook was involved in another chance during the 75th minute, when Zoe Hasenauer settled the ball at the top of the box and passed to Cook near the left post. Cook's shot across the goal mouth went wide of the far post, but the Ducks were pushing.
About four minutes later, Maya Hahn found herself with possession off a corner kick and got off a shot that didn't make it through traffic. Then, in the 83rd minute, a free kick created a similar chance for Curran. This time the shot got through.
"During practice we always work on those, and my body is always open and I'm shanking balls," Curran said. "Graeme came to me like, make sure when you go in, you close your body. So when I saw that ball coming I was just whispering to myself, body down, head down, just get over the ball. And then, yeah."
Curran's shot was just the third of the second half by Oregon. But it provided all the difference the Ducks would need.
Notable: Curran's goal was the fifth of her career and her second game-winner — the other also coming against Portland, in 2018. … The victory was Oregon's first over the Pilots in Eugene since 1980. … The Ducks are unbeaten through seven games for the first time in the modern era of the program, which was reinstated in 1996. … Freeman's eight career shutouts have come in just 20 starts. … Friday's matchup came on the program's annual "BEOREGON" night, recognizing the athletic department's program that celebrates diversity and inclusivity in sport.
Up Next: The Ducks play at Portland State on Sunday.