Long-Time-Coming Goal by Harrington Lifts Ducks in Opener
EUGENE, Ore. – No one has scored more goals at the high school level in the state of Oregon than Callan Harrington.
After she netted her last two scores in the state championship game as a senior to lead Jesuit High School to the 6A title – passing soccer Hall of Famer and U.S. national team star Tiffeny Milbrett by one goal for the state record – Harrington seemed destined to score in buckets as a collegian.
That was nearly three years ago.
After delays relating to both the Covid-19 pandemic and untimely injuries, Harrington made her long-awaited Duck debut Thursday at Papé Field in Oregon's 2022 season opener against New Mexico State.
The redshirt sophomore from Portland came on as a substitute in the 28th minute. As the clock wound down to the end of the first half, Harrington found herself in a familiar spot, working her way behind the opposing defense and looking to strike.
Moments earlier, freshman Anna Emperador had initiated Oregon's attack with a crisp pass from the far sideline to freshman Livvy Moore who was waiting at the top of the penalty box. Moore dropped a ball back to True Dydasco, who slotted a perfect pass into space behind the Aggies' defense.
Harrington then did what she had done 133 times before as a prep star at Jesuit by beating NMSU goalkeeper Makenna Gottschalk with a clever chip shot to the left corner.
"My mentality was, 'I'm going to be ready when my moment hits.' Guns blazing I'm going to go and I'm going to get my opportunity because I've been waiting for years," said Harrington.
Her first goal on her first shot as a Duck helped lead Oregon to a 2-0 win over the Aggies in front of 554 to open the 2022 season.
The Ducks also counted a late score from freshman Ajanae Respass, who corralled a rebound off her own missed shot to put the game away in the 89th minute.
Respass was aggressive all match long and led the team with five shots, four of which were on goal.
"I probably should have had some earlier but my teammates were encouraging and they kept telling me to keep going," said Respass. "To get my first goal out of the way, that was very, very exciting. I've been waiting for that moment."
Oregon's defense was up to the task as well. Hermann Trophy preseason watch list goalie Leah Freeman had to make a sprawling stop in the ninth minute, one of five saves Freeman made on the night, as she teamed with USC transfer Bel Rolley and veterans Chai Cortez, Anna Phillips and Megan Rucker on the back line to post the shutout.
The Ducks also turned to their depth and subbed liberally on an unusually warm and humid night in Eugene.
"We've got depth this year," said coach Graeme Abel, who used 18 players on Thursday, including seven who made their first appearance in an Oregon uniform. "I thought Bel was exceptional in her debut for us.
"We've now got players with technical quality," said Abel. "They're athletic so we've got 100 percent confidence in those players to put them in in big moments."
What It Means: Oregon is 3-0 in season-openers under Abel. The Ducks won the first-ever meeting with New Mexico State.
Head Coach Graeme Abel
"When we connected we looked good and moved the ball but we didn't do it enough. I think it showed we hadn't played a game yet."
Notable: Freeman posted her 15th career shutout (third) and 14th career win (sixth) at Oregon … Dydasco, a sixth-year senior, recorded her first assists since 2020 and the third of her career … Among the seven players making their Oregon debuts were senior Madeline Gravante, freshmen Trinity Morales, Emperador, Moore and Respass, Harrington and Rolley … Three returning Duck starters from 2021 were held out Thursday with minor ailments: Kess Elmore, Caitlin Shaw and Croix Soto … This was Oregon's first game on the newly refurbished playing surface at Papé Field.
Up Next: San Francisco, Sunday, 2 p.m. (Pac-12 Network).
- www.GoDucks.com -