Soccer begins conference play in Eugene

Sophomore+defender+Mariah+Powers+controls+the+ball+against+Eastern+Washington+on+the+Lower+Soccer+Field%2C+Sunday%2C+Sept.+1%2C+2013.
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Soccer begins conference play in Eugene

Sophomore defender Mariah Powers controls the ball against Eastern Washington on the Lower Soccer Field, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013.

Sophomore defender Mariah Powers controls the ball against Eastern Washington on the Lower Soccer Field, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013.

Sophomore defender Mariah Powers controls the ball against Eastern Washington on the Lower Soccer Field, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013.

Sophomore defender Mariah Powers controls the ball against Eastern Washington on the Lower Soccer Field, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013.

By Kurt Schroeder, Evergreen Soccer reporter

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The WSU women’s soccer team (7-0-2) will go duck hunting Thursday when the team opens up Pac-12 conference play on the road against Oregon (2-4-2).

WSU is fresh off two non-conference road wins against Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine, 1-0 and 4-0, respectively, and finished the non-conference schedule with a goose egg in the loss column.

Head Coach Keidane McAlpine was pleased with his team’s efforts, attributing its success to the players’ ability to set and reach goals.

“They are right on par with what they wanted to do,” McAlpine said Tuesday in a press conference. “They set some very lofty goals with the non-conference and so I’ll give them a lot of credit. They’ve stuck to the script, so to speak, and it’s been a great start.”

Senior forward Micaela Castain looks to continue her sizzling scoring streak as the Pac-12’s leading goal-scorer also ranks fourth nationally with 10 goals, showing her potential as a scoring threat.

“When we got here last year we told her, ‘You have a special knack for scoring goals,’” McAlpine said. “I think she took that challenge starting last year and this year it has kind of grown. It’s in her mindset that she knows she has to carry us a bit.”

WSU is on top of the conference leading up to the Pac-12 opener against Oregon. McAlpine doubts that will affect the team’s mindset or play.

“It’s going to be another game,” he said. “It’s a little personal. We have a couple kids from there, so to that end it will add some fun to the game, but realistically we just have to go out there and play.”

Although an aggressive front line has stolen the spotlight with a vast number of scored goals, a tenacious backline has been the root of the Cougs’ success thus far. This is due in large part to the team’s ability to rotate players and get everyone minutes.

“It’s been huge,” McAlpine said. “We feel very comfortable – now that we have come through some games – that we can play any of them.”  

The Cougs lengthened their unbeaten streak to a school-record 13 matches, dating back to last season, which ranks second nationally among active win streaks, second only to Baylor.

All-time against Oregon, WSU holds a 9-4-4 advantage including a 4-1-3 record in Eugene.

Play is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. and will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.