After playing 896 minutes without a goal last season, Oregon’s Emma Eddy has five already in 2018.

So what’s behind the transformation? If you ask her coach, it’s as clear as the expression on Eddy’s face.

“Really, she’s having some fun,” coach Kat Mertz said. “She feels comfortable with the coaching staff. She feels comfortable with the team. She’s out there with a big smile on her face. I always tell her it’s infectious.”

Behind Eddy’s hot start, the Ducks are 4-1-1 heading into their final nonconference games Friday against Portland and Sunday against Idaho. The junior forward/midfielder scored both goals in a 2-0 victory against Gonzaga earlier this month, supplied the equalizer in a 1-1 tie against Kansas and scored the game-winner in the Ducks’ season opener against Stony Brook.

For Eddy, the recent success is the payoff after two years of searching for her place. She was an all-state selection at Sheldon but didn’t start the recruiting process until late in her senior year, leaving her options limited. Mertz sensed Eddy was conflicted about whether to go all in with a college soccer career, and Eddy agreed that was true.

“I don’t think I took enough initiative,” she said. “I was kind of worried because I didn’t know what I wanted to do in college, so I kind of just put it off for a long time.”

Oregon considered Eddy as a walk-on but wasn’t ready to offer a scholarship. Eddy ended up signing with Idaho, where she scored eight goals as a freshman and shared newcomer of the year honors in the Big Sky Conference.

Despite her success, Eddy struggled to get comfortable at Idaho. She made up her mind to transfer and reached out to Oregon, where her former club coach, Manny Martins, had just been promoted to associate head coach.

“Once I realized I wasn’t happy at Idaho, I started thinking about whether or not I could play here,” Eddy said. “I thought I might as well take the risk because it was worth it to be happy.”

Oregon’s coaches saw enough from Eddy during her freshman season at Idaho to believe she was fully committed and ready to play at a higher level. The questions they had about Eddy in high school were answered by the way she performed when given the chance.

“For us at a Pac-12 school, there’s such a level of commitment, of training, of stress that’s involved,” Mertz said. “You want to make sure these players are 100 percent ready to go at this level.

“Lucky for us, she decided she really wanted to commit to this game.”

In one sense, Eddy was coming home. In another sense, she was coming to a whole new environment with new teammates, new coaches and a higher level of competition.

The transition was tough at first, and it took Eddy a year or so to get comfortable.

“It’s always pretty hard when you’re first coming into somewhere,” she said. “You don’t really know anyone and have to figure out what the coaches want. It’s kind of stressful to figure out what your place is on the team.”

Eddy was a natural scorer who once had three goals in a single game at Idaho. To go a whole season without a goal at Oregon weighed on her.

Mertz sensed that weight lifting when Eddy stole the ball and scored the game-winner in a 1-0 exhibition victory against the Mexican U20 national team last spring. The momentum continued in the fall as Eddy became the fifth player in program history to score a goal in three consecutive games.

“She scored all these goals at Idaho, and I think she came in with all this added pressure on her shoulders: ‘Oh my gosh, I need to score,’” Mertz said. “She scored a great goal in the spring for us against the U20 Mexican national team, and I really think that took the weight off her shoulders. She was able to play a little more freely and not worry about when that goal is going to come.”

Encouraging starts haven’t translated to much success for the Ducks in the conference standings, where they’ve finished seventh or lower each year since 2005. Mertz will wait to see how this year’s team stacks up before making any proclamations, but she said the Ducks are closer and more confident than they were a year ago.

Eddy would be the first to agree.

“Overall happiness definitely helps out,” she said. “Last year was a little stressful, being a transfer and figuring things out. I’m just focusing on having fun, I guess.”