Utah soccer travels to the Pacific Northwest this weekend to challenge the Ducks and Beavers on the pitch. The Utes, off to the best start in program history, look to get back on track after a humbling road trip last weekend in SoCal. Here’s a look at what the Utes can expect this weekend in Oregon.
Saturday 5 pm MT on Pac-12 Networks
The Utes take on the Ducks at Papé Field in Eugene on Friday. The Ducks have a record of 5-4-2, but play well on their home field and are unbeaten there this season. The Utes however seem to have the Ducks number in Oregon, having a 3-1-1 all time record in Eugene.
The Ducks do not have a dominant scorer on the team, rather they spread it around with 10 different players having scored this year. They are led by senior Lilly Archer, the only player to have more than one score this season. Other dangerous players to keep an eye on are juniors Kelsey Foo and Kira Wagoner.
The Ducks are strong defensively, anchored by goalkeeper keeper Abby Steele. The senior has seventeen career shutouts and was named Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the week, taking the honor from Utah's Lindsey Luke who had won the award the previous two weeks. Combine the fact that the Ducks allow 0.68 goals per game with Utah allowing only 0.55 goals a game and we have the makings for a low scoring defensive battle.
Sunday 1 pm MT
Oregon State Athletics/Scobel Wiggins
On Sunday the Utes will find themselves in Corvallis at Paul Lorenz Field to battle the Beavers. Oregon State has struggled this year, having yet to win a game with a record of 0-9-3. Part of the reason for the Beavers' struggles may be attributed to their overall youth. Only four upperclassmen are on the roster, compared to a total of thirteen freshman. Of those thirteen freshman eight have made starts for the Beavers this season.
A more obvious reason for the lack of wins can be traced to their inability to score. The young Oregon State squad has only been able to find the back of the net twice this year, both coming against St. Mary's.
"On offense, we generated some good looks early on," Rhode said after the Beavers' loss to Arizona State last week, "but overall we need to continue to focus on that area of our game."
While the offense appears to be the Beavers' liability, their defense is sound. The back line has quite a bit of experience led by team captain Gwen Bieck who has started the past 39 matches for the Beavers. The junior Bieck patrols the center and is flanked by sophomore Annie Govig who played 18 games last year and has started all 12 so far this year. In goal the Beavers start promising freshman Bella Geist who already has 3 clean sheets for her career.
This weekend's matchups look to provide the Ute back line some relief after the southern California schools kept them busy last weekend. Both Oregon schools struggle with scoring (Oregon State considerably more so), yet play stellar defense. The reprieve from constantly being back on defense may provide the opportunity for the Utes to be more aggressive in their attacking play, which may prove to be the difference in these games. It won't be easy, as they will still need to find the back of the net against two high quality defenses. Oregon will be trying to keep their unbeaten streak at Papé Field alive, while the Utes have never won in Corvallis. Overall it should be an interesting weekend for Utes soccer.