UO enjoys World Cup taste
Oregon got a taste of what life is like at the World Cup level when the Ghanian national soccer team visited Eugene for an exhibition game Wednesday night.
And the only thing better than the game itself was the atmosphere.
An estimated crowd of 1,240 at Pape Field witnessed the Black Queens score a pair of quick goals at the start of the second half to defeat the Ducks 2-0.
Despite the loss, the first international exhibition played by UO in its eight years was a rousing success, as the Ducks stood toe-to-toe in the first half with the team that will represent Ghana in the World Cup tournament that begins in two weeks.
"The first half was very exciting, a lot of end-to-end stuff," UO coach Bill Steffen said. "They were very athletic, very strong in the air and got better pacing than most collegiate teams. They can do a lot of things that other teams won't be able to."
In the stands, the fans and players were entertained by the Ghanian contingent, many of whom spent the entire game drumming, chanting and singing from their midfield bleacher seats.
"All those NCAA rules about noisemakers, I understand their purpose, but at the same time, those drums were pretty good," Steffen said. "When you play this kind of game, you hope for this kind of atmosphere."
The Ducks got off to good start, outshooting the Black Queens 5-3 in the first half as the two teams went into the break locked in a scoreless tie. Three of those attempts for UO came from freshman forward Andrea Valadez, who was making her first start.
It was an entirely different story in the second half, as Ghana outshot the Ducks 15-1. However, Oregon started the second half playing mostly reserves, including backup goalkeeper Mary Etter, who allowed both goals.
The first score came 3:40 into half as Ghana's Adjoa Bayor fought off defender Christine Mintz and fired a left-footed shot from 16 yards out into the top right corner.
One minute later, Bayor launched a kick over the defense from 23 yards out high into the top of the net for her second goal. Bayor was the main force for Ghana, recording seven shots in the second half and eight total.
"They had a lot of speed and definitely ran at us the whole game," UO defender Carlie Ashcraft said.
"It was really good for us to get this experience and have that speed coming at us. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The drumming during the game, how great was that? Playing against a World Cup team was awesome."