At Papé field yesteday our Oregon Ducks encountered their biggest challenge of the season thus far against the number 2 and undefeated University of Florida. There were over three hundred people in attendance, eager to watch the competition between the two collegiate teams. From the Gators blue rain jackets, their bright orange cleats and sticks, and Papé fields vivid yellow and green the gloomy afternoon was showing to be anything but dull.
Starting off the game, the Gators demonstrated their keenness to challenge the Ducks and swiftly shot two goals in the net. Oregon maintained their vigor and Casey Brogan scored to put the the Ducks on the scoreboard. When the Ducks had possession on offense, the majority of the time they spread out wide past the 12 meter and passed the ball around the circle. They did this to slow down the Gators’ momentum before executing a play in hope of catching them on their heels.
Oregon took a time out halfway through the first period to reorder their gameplay. This was the boost the Ducks needed, because they subsequently scored two goals within four minutes (3-6). The Gators retaliated and mirrored the Ducks with two of their own (3-8). With one minute remaining in the first half, the Gators stalled for two minutes. They had three girls wide outside the twelve meter and three at the top of the eight both in triangular formations. This setup was daunting but the Duck defense held their ground and shut down attempts at isolations in the eight. The Gators managed to scramble for a goal right before the whistle blew.
Going into the half Florida had a 50% shot accuracy rate, and Oregon was at 43% with half the amount of shots on goal. Oregon had five draw controls while Florida had eight and the score was 9-3 in the Gators’ favor. Despite the statistics, the game was well executed by the Ducks and they did not look like they were anything less than one goal behind on the playing field.
Coming into the second half Oregon maintained ball control and took their time setting up the offense. The beginning of the second period was low scoring, mostly because the goalies – our own Salliebeth Finnegan and Floridas’ Mikey Meagher — both had crucial and impressive saves. Finnegan came out of the game with eight saves and an all time game high of three ground balls.
As the ten-minute countdown started, Florida was playing as if they were behind, giving our Ducks a challenge in transitions. Nevertheless, Oregon prevailed and Shannon Propst got an unassisted goal bringing the Ducks within five goals of Florida (9-4).
Florida’s offense was different from our structured Ducks, as they spent less time to set up and almost always went for the shot over a play. From a low scoring second half the pace immensely picked up in the last ten minutes as the Gators scored three more point and the Ducks scored one bringing the score to 12-5 with thirty seconds left. The Gators transitioned the ball to their offense and were shut down but the Duck defense. In the end, they got a free position shot and put it in the net bringing the final score to 13-5.
Oregon has a six-day break before they face the San Diego State Aztecs and end their seven-game home stand. In the meantime, the Ducks will continue to build their offensive strategies, maintain their celebrated speed through conditioning, and come back ready to triumph over the Aztecs.