Oregon came oh, so close to a monumental women’s soccer result Thursday in front of a season-high turnout of 775 at Pape Field.
And then, with her powerful right leg, Stanford’s Catarina Macario ended all that hope for the Ducks with a free kick into the net in the 100th minute as the No. 1 Cardinal (11-0-1 overall, 4-0 in the Pac-12) escaped with a 1-0 overtime victory.
The Ducks (7-4-1, 1-3), who have never beaten Stanford in 22 attempts, gave it about all they had, including nearly scoring with less than three minutes left in regulation, but were left only with a loss as painful as any of them have endured in their college careers.
“I’m gutted for our players,” UO coach Kat Mertz said. “We played 99 minutes of pure heart and discipline and committed to the game plan.”
But the Ducks were called for fouling Stanford’s Madison Haley, and the Cardinal were rewarded the free kick from about 25 yards out with 40 seconds left in the first overtime period. There was no doubt it would be Macario taking the free kick, and the sophomore who leads the Cardinal in scoring and had 10 shots in the game, put the ball over Oregon defenders and past Oregon goalie Halla Hinriksdottir as the defending national champions stretched their unbeaten streak to 34 matches.
“She’s deadly with free kicks around the box,” Mertz said. “There really wasn’t much we could do. She put it up and over the wall (of Oregon defenders) and dipped it in. Just a beautiful free kick.”
Stanford had the best of the match statistically. The shots favored the Cardinal by a 23-to-8 margin, and Stanford had six of those in overtime when Oregon had none. Stanford had eight corner kicks to Oregon’s one. Hinriksdottir came up with six saves, and the Cardinal put a shot off the Oregon post in the second half.
Oregon’s best opportunity to score and secure the upset came in the 87th minute when Emma Eddy flicked a shot toward the goal as she battled a defender from inside of 10 yards out but was wide with her effort.
“I thought we might have tucked one away there,” Mertz said. “I was just, ‘oh my goodness,’ she almost put it away there.”
Eddy had three of Oregon’s eight shot attempts as the Ducks played without leading scorer Marissa Everett after the senior suffered a leg injury in the final minute of Oregon’s 1-0 loss Sunday at Washington.
“That’s why we have a deep bench,” Mertz said of the absence of Everett. “We were moving players around and I thought they were able to step up.
“It would have been nice to have Everett, I think she would have maybe tucked one away in there, but I can’t go back and say ‘what if?’”
Instead, the Ducks need to get ready for California on Sunday, the second in a stretch of five consecutive games against teams that played in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
“Going forward, this is our expectation,” Oregon senior Jazmin Jackmon said of Oregon’s play against Stanford. “We’ve now shown we can not only play with the No. 1 team in the nation but we can be a better team on the field.”