SOCCER RECAP: Ducks Stack Experience; Come Up Short Against The Buffs

By David Miller

The Oregon Ducks came home from Arizona ready to run hot in their home conference opener. The Ducks (0-8-2) fought hard, including scoring for the first time at home this season, but it would not be enough to put away Colorado (9-2-0) and the Buffs won 3-1.

The Oregon mist fell over a chilly Papé Field, where the Ducks looked to gain their first win of the season in their Pac-12 conference home opener. The Ducks came into the game off a tough loss in their first conference matchup of the season against Arizona.

The Ducks came out aggressive, which left them vulnerable. A turnover in their own box led to a Colorado goal in just the 10th minute from Shyra James.

The Ducks kept their heads up and found themselves with a corner kick in the 28th minute. Kristen Conti was able to get her head on the ball and sent it into the back of the net.

Both defenses stiffened up following the early goals and managed to take a 1-1 tie into the locker room at the half.  After some antics from The Duck mascot and promotions team, the Ducks and Buffs emerged for the second half.

The Ducks came out with the same intensity they had in the first half and managed to take the 1-1 tie into the 60th minute. However, they would give up two goals in short succession, one in the 61st minute to Ally Clark and the second in the 62nd minute by Emerson Layne.

The game was chirpy and physical throughout, which led to a couple of late match yellow cards for Oregon’s Ajanae Respass and Colorado’s Ally Clark.

Though the Ducks continued to press forward and create shots on goal, they were unable to score on Colorado’s strong defense.

The Ducks return to Papé field against Utah on Sunday, where they look to build on the momentum from what Coach Graeme Abel called “big progress.”

HSFB: Thurston High to Take on Undefeated Crosstown Rival

By Charles Martindale

SPRINGFIELD, OR.: About 10 minutes on highway 126 separate the Thurston Colts from Springfield High School, and Friday night, both of Springfield’s high school football teams will converge on Silke field for their first meeting since last year.

Background: Things got off to a rocky start for the Colts in 2023, with 20+ point losses spoiling their season and home opener. While the Springfield Millers jumped out to 4-0, the Colts have had to play catch up, entering Friday as winners of back to back games against North Eugene and Crater. The victory in Central Point against Crater saw the Colts put 64 on the board. Springfield also holds a win over Crater, and have averaged over 38 points per game to this point in the season. It’s a big game for the local rivalry, but also for a Thurston team looking to get above .500 for the first time on the young season.

Rushing: Arguably the biggest draw to the game is Springfield running back Connor Dye. The 5’10” senior has already matched his junior year tally for touchdowns with 10, doing it in just four games. He’s been the motor of a very effective Millers offense, averaging over 160 yards a game and seven per carry. Thurston’s attack on the ground is much more economic, with senior Ethan Burkhead averaging nearly six yards a carry and junior Ashden Weiler splitting the duties, rushing for 185 yards and a touchdown himself so far this year. The game will be determined by how well Thurston can implement their dual threat attack, while also likely gameplanning all week for Dye.

Passing: Thurston quarterback Noah Blair has had a lot of pressure on his shoulders as a junior, but he’s played solid for the Colts so far, completing 72% of his passes and throwing for 13 touchdowns to his 3 interceptions. The target of choice for Blair is senior Walker Bonar, who leads the team in catches and yards despite only playing in two games. Lombel Doreen, who also plays lacrosse for Thurston, has been another target for Thurston. At just 5’8”, Doreen has nearly 200 yards. Burkhead has been a weapon in the passing game as well as the rushing attack, averaging four catches for 20 yards weekly for Blair. For Springfield, Zackary Sherman will be under center. The senior is completing just 61% of his passes, and has a poor TD/INT ratio of 3-4. The lack of a dominant quarterback could be a focus of Thurston’s defense. As a receiver though, Sherman leads the team with a pair of touchdowns. The leading pass catcher for the Millers is junior Jaevon Spencer, who leads the team in yards and in catches.

Defense: Thurston’s defense is allowing 31 points per game in 2023, while the undefeated Millers are allowing just 17.

Overall, tonight’s game in Springfield will be a learning experience for both sides, with the Colts looking to make a statement around town, and the Millers attempting to start the year 5-0.