ASHLAND — The Cascade Collegiate Conference women's soccer season begins this weekend for Southern Oregon University when the Raiders host Evergreen at 3 p.m. on Friday and Northwest at noon on Sunday at University Field.
Southern Oregon (4-3-1) will try to halt a three-match losing streak on Friday when the Geoducks come to town. The Raiders opened the season with their strongest five-match start in program history at 4-0-1, before falling to a pair of ranked teams and Menlo on the road.
"We're looking forward to getting back at it after a relatively lengthy break from matches, and it will be good to be at home and get a chance to play in front of our home fans," SOU head coach Jon Clement said. "We're anticipating two difficult games against organized and hard-working opponents, so it should be an entertaining weekend."
Even with the recent losses, SOU has outscored its opponents 21-14 for the season, with an 11-6 advantage in the second half. The Raiders have nearly doubled their opponents in shot attempts, holding a 112-69 advantage.
Stephanie Carr leads the team and ranks first in the conference with seven goals this season. The senior has 30 in her career and is two goals away from tying the SOU program record. Sydney Paulsen has added 10 scores, while Stacy Hamer has three and Julie Zamzow and Elise De Jesse each have a pair. Kelsey Clement and Katelyn Allen have split time in goal, tallying a 1.69 goal against average with a total of 22 saves.
Evergreen will be looking for its first win of the season, as the Geoducks are 0-4-1 overall in 2012. They have been outscored 10-3 and outshot 89-32, and no ESC player has tallied more than one goal so far this year. Kaitlin MacKenzie and Lauren Davidson have split time in goal for the Geoducks, yielding an average of 1.86 goals per match while compiling 32 saves.
The Raiders are 8-3-4 all time against Evergreen, including 4-0 since 2008. Southern Oregon has outscored ESC 8-1 in the last four matches and defeated the Geoducks 4-1 in Olympia last season.
The 2012 season has not been kind to Northwest after the Eagles finished third in the 2011 conference standings and advanced to the CCC championship match. Northwest is 1-7-1 this season, with its lone victory a 2-1 overtime victory over Menlo on Aug. 31 in Kirkland, Wash. The Eagles have been outscored 16-7, including 11-3 in the second half. Jessica Oliver leads the team with three goals, and she is the only Eagle with multiple scores. Three NU goalkeepers have combined for 40 saves and a 1.98 goal against average.
Sunday's match will give SOU a chance to knock off Northwest for the first time since the Eagles ended the Raiders' 2011 season with a 2-1 upset win at University Field in the CCC tournament semifinals. The Raiders are 5-2-1 against Northwest in a series that stretches back to 2006, but the Eagles beat SOU in back-to-back matches to conclude the 2011 season.
"We're going to have to try to play good, connected football in and out of possession; take chances when they come and above all remain focused and concentrated for 90 minutes," Clement said. "It's also key to have a blast — like most teams, we play a ton better when we're just having fun and trying to play well, rather than worrying too much about winning or losing."