Eugene, Ore. -- Oregon head women's soccer coach Graeme Abel knows Stanford soccer well. He trained Cardinal alums Christen Press and Kelly O'Hara while they were on the United States Women's National Team and Abel was a coach. He's also seen some of the current Stanford roster either in youth camps or training events. So, perhaps better than most, the first year Ducks head coach knows what he's getting into when the No. 1 ranked Cardinal come to Pape Field this weekend.
"They're smart kids number one," Abel explained on Tuesday. "They're good players. They're able to go get youth national players that have experience playing different countries around the world so good technical players, smart players and they've got a lot of them. It's as simple as that."
Oregon enters the matchup with a 1-0-1 record, having won and drawn the first two matches of the Graeme Abel era. While the Ducks may have thought they should've taken the win against Sacramento State instead of a 1-1 draw, Abel said the team was hungry to prove something as they headed into conference play.
"Once you go into the Pac-12, it's a completely different ballgame," Abel explained. "There's gonna be further questions that come up about it and we prepare for everything and I'll see if we can answer those questions within the game. Our kids are coming along nicely. We've not gotten off to the greatest starts so that has to change. Second half of both those games were really good."
Two of the Ducks leading scorers from last season, Zoe Hasenauer and Ally Cook, have already scored goals this season, while forward Jordan Wormdahl and transfer forward Lexi Romero are waiting for their opportunity. Abel praised Romero's progress in particular after a longer than usual ramp up due to CoVid protocols. Romero transferred from Air Force in the offseason and was unable to engage in full contact training due to restrictions in Oregon.
The Ducks kick off vs. Stanford on Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. at Pape Field. A broadcast can be found on Oregon's livestream located on GoDucks.com. The team will conclude their bay area series with Cal at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday.