Ducks Upset No. 15 Washington, 2-0
EUGENE, Ore. – Kess Elmore scored in her first match of the season and Leah Freeman made a career-high 14 saves – one shy of the school record – as Oregon upended No. 15 Washington 2-0 Friday night in front of a boisterous crowd of 807 at Papé Field.
The Ducks (3-2-4, 1-0-0) snapped a six-match losing streak to the Huskies while handing UW (6-1-2, 0-1-0) its first loss of the season. It was also Freeman's 17th career shutout, tying Abby Steele (2011-14) for the school record.
"(Freeman)'s probably one of the top couple of goalkeepers in the country," said Oregon coach Graeme Abel. "She knows what I think about her in terms of what she does for this team, on and off the field, not only on the technical side and the tactical side, she's grown as a leader every single day, she's maturing as a person. So, she's a great member to this team, and we're all super proud of her."
How it Happened: Oregon utilized Freeman's strong leg to initiate a give-and-go goal in the 11th minute. Freeman drilled a goal kick well into Washington territory and Ajanae Respass won the ball 35 yard out from the Huskies' goal. She slipped a pass to Kaitlyn Paculba who was breaking free down the right side. Paculba carried the ball to the end line before feeding a pass back to Respass, who was crashing down on the near post.
Respass then lined a shot across the goal and into the far side of the net. It was her team-leading fourth goal of the season.
Oregon got some breathing room in the 70th minute when Elmore feathered a shot through traffic on a set piece. Chai Cortez directed a corner kick into the middle of the Huskies' box and the ball ricocheted around before squirting out to Elmore who was waiting just outside the 18-yard line. Her shot split two UW defenders and rolled past the Huskies' keeper for a 2-0 lead.
"I'm feeling great," said Elmore, who started 19 matches for the Ducks a year ago. "I'm just really happy to be back on the pitch. Loved every second."
While Respass and Elmore were making the most of their chances at the offensive end, Oregon's defense plugged up the middle, frustrating Washington all night. As a result most of the Huskies' 28 shots, while on frame, came from distance and were easily handled by Freeman.
"I think our team was really in lock-down defense," said Freeman. "It's like, if they forced that shot from the outside there's not very many places that person can go besides at me and so I was able to just get in the right spot based on what our defense was able to force them to do."
Freeman's 14 saves were the most by a Duck keeper in 19 years. Domenique Lainez tied Sarah Peters' school record when she made 15 saves against Texas A&M back in 2003.
"I think I'm just so happy that our team won," said Freeman. "I'm really, really happy that we started the Pac-12 season like this. We beat a school that I haven't beaten the entire time I've been here. I know that some of the older girls on our team, they haven't beaten them the entire time they have been here, so being able to do that as a unit, being able to do that together, finishing the opportunities that we had – I'm just ecstatic about that."
What It Means: It was Oregon's first win over a ranked team since defeating No. 3 Stanford, 2-1, in the 2020 season.
Head Coach Graeme Abel
"We've been getting better and better each week – that's been the message for the past couple weeks and we're maturing as a team. We're still not at full strength, but again people are stepping up to the plate when needed. I'm so proud of the group because again, that's another team, it's a gritty effort, it's a typical Oregon performance, so it's a good way to start the conference play."
Notable: Not only did Elmore play for the first time this season (36 minutes), all-Pac-12 defender Croix Soto also made her 2022 debut, logging 14 minutes and one shot. … Zoe Hasenauer started the 80th match of her career, which is tied for second at Oregon with Danielle Sweeney (2006-09) and Scout Libke (2009-12). … In attendance at Oregon's largest crowd of the season were more than 100 members of Oregon's incoming freshman class who had been next door at Autzen Stadium for a class photo. … The Ducks were called for a season-high 20 fouls. … This was Oregon's first win against Washington since Nov. 1, 2015 (1-0, OT).
Up Next: No. 1 UCLA, Thursday, 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Live Stream).
"We'll prepare for them as usual," said Abel. "The coaching staff we have here does an awesome job breaking down video, and taking a look at things, where we can negate teams. We'll take a look at it and see – they're a good team, like every team in this conference and we'll see what we need to do to get results in that game."
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