Alisa Grant, Cate Dance, Tiana Ahue and Megan Clark, all veterans of the Oregon women’s club soccer team, had an idea.
The Ducks’ roster had been released just two days before the squad’s first match of the season and the team only had time for one practice entering the weekend battle against the University of Portland’s club team, so the four organized a pasta dinner at Clark’s and Grant’s house.
“It was about enjoying each other’s company, getting to know the girls and having fun,” Dance said.
A team dinner is nothing out of the ordinary but, apparently, the camaraderie-building Italian special helped: Oregon defeated the Pilots last Saturday 3-0.
Dance, a midfielder, scored one goal and assisted on another. She credited the defense for calling the shots and the offense for following through.
“Our defense was awesome,” she said. “Just after one practice to be able to come out with a win, it gets the team morale going. We are excited for regionals.”
The Ducks finished fourth at the regional tournament in Arizona last season.
In the 39th minute Saturday, Dance booted a pass to sophomore Kat Penberthy, who drilled it into the back of the net for the first score of the match.
“It felt good to finally connect and finish. And I got lucky. It was a nice pass from Cate,” Penberthy said.
Only minutes later, Dance followed up on a missed goal attempt that deflected off the hands of Portland’s goalkeeper. Dance picked the ball out of the air and angled it in, bumping the score to 2-0.
Then, freshman Christine De Martini tore up the field, discovered an opening and torpedoed a shot past the goal line, sealing Oregon’s 3-0 win.
Goalkeeper Kaitlan McGuinness had two gutsy saves late in the game. Her positioning and timing, alongside a new but solid defensive line, relegated Portland to just a handful of opportunities to score.
“We worked together as a team and had good defensive formation, and we really communicated well,” McGuinness said.
Oregon coach Zach Zollinger, a Pocatello, Idaho native, had no complaints after the victory.
“It is nice to come together as a team,” he said. “Our second half was really strong, and I am pleased with it.”
Oregon will next play Central Washington University at home Oct. 14. The team’s regional tournament will be held at the University of California-Davis Oct. 27.
Men’s team continues streak
The Oregon men’s club soccer team defeated Northwest Christian College 3-1 last Saturday. Junior Eric Richards, senior Bryan Mikolaitis and senior Will Townsend each scored. With the score tied 1-1 entering the second half of play, the Ducks unleashed two goals to pull away.
“We had a lot of opportunities to score,” co-coach and co-coordinator Jason Modahl said.
The following day, the men beat Southern Oregon University 2-1. Down one at the half, Modahl said he reminded his teammates of their 24-game winning streak. Richards and junior Andre Bourque responded with scores in the second half to seal the victory and push the team’s win total to 25 consecutive games, stemming from last year’s perfect season.
The Ducks hit the road Sunday to battle Central Oregon Community College in Bend, Ore.