Hawaii Grown: Former Campbell standout Chardonnay Curran hoping to lift Oregon soccer to its first NCAA Tournament berth

·4 min read

Sep. 22—No student-athlete in the history of Oregon women's soccer has played in more matches than Chardonnay Curran.

None of those matches—81 in all with 73 starts—come close to the importance of the one she hopes to be playing in November.

The 2017 Campbell alumna has led the Ducks to their first unbeaten record in nonconference play in the modern era (since 1996 ) of the program.

At 5-0-3 overall, Oregon enters Friday's Pac-12 opener at No. 3 UCLA in position to accomplish another first in program history—an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

"That's honestly the only stat I care about here, " Curran said in a phone interview Tuesday.

The 5-foot-4 midfielder, who has been more of an attacker this year after playing center back as a junior, wanted to attend Oregon since the seventh grade.

She accomplished that goal years ago, but the dream also included playing in the NCAA postseason.

In the spring—after the conference pushed the season back because of the COVID-19 pandemic—Oregon had its best season in Pac-12 play since Curran became a Duck.

However, the NCAA Tournament field was reduced to 48 teams from the usual 64, and once again, Oregon was on the outside looking in.

"We had a pretty good season, " Curran said. "But just being a part of that team I could see the talent and our potential."

It was tough at the time, but in a weird way, it might have worked out for the Ducks.

Curran had an opportunity to pursue a professional career, either in the National Women's Soccer League in the United States or overseas with a club team in Europe.

That missing NCAA Tournament appearance on her college resume, though, meant enough to push her to come back for a fifth season.

"That was a huge reason, " Curran said. "I didn't want to give up on my team. I had hope with the players we have and with everyone staying that if I decided to stay, we'd be the same team."

The players are the same, but the results are even better.

Oregon has allowed just eight goals in eight games and is unbeaten in 10 games overall dating back to last season, marking the longest streak since 1981.

Curran, who has switched positions again and is able to attack the opposing goal a little more, has scored twice already, matching her career high.

Her second goal came in the 83rd minute of Friday's 1-0 win over Portland in which she tied the record for most games played in an Oregon uniform before breaking it in Sunday's shutout of Portland State.

"It's my favorite thing to do, " Curran said of attacking the opposing goal.

After her freshman season in 2017, Curran was called up twice to join the United States' Under-18 Women's National Team and also participated in the under-20 team's training camp.

She turned right around her sophomore year and played in all 19 matches for the Ducks, making 17 starts.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020, it came at a time she was beginning to wear down.

Already contemplating taking a break from soccer, Curran spent more than two months at home, where she says she surfed practically every day.

"It was the best time of my life, " she said. "My whole life I've been traveling for soccer and I've spent a lot of time away from home.

"I was already thinking of taking a break for my mental health, so the timing of it was perfect. The time away from soccer allowed me to appreciate the sport so much more. (The pandemic ) made me learn to appreciate everything and don't take anything for granted."

As fun as it was riding waves every day, Curran returned to campus for the second part of fall with a renewed focus.

When it was time to make the decision between turning pro and returning for one more year, Curran said, she looked at the bigger picture to make her choice.

"Nothing is guaranteed and I don't know, I just went with my gut, " she said. "I've been pretty much overlooked my whole life and (at Oregon ) we're a bunch of underrated underdogs with potential.

"This past season I learned it's not about me or what I have to do or needing stats, it's about the team and what I can do to help the team. My biggest goal this season is obviously to win, but to help my teammates grow in any way is going to help us get there."

CHARDONNAY CURRAN—School : Oregon—Class : Senior—Height : 5 feet 4—Position : Midfielder—High school : Campbell (2017 )

CAREER STATISTICS YEAR MP-MS G A SH SOG GW MIN 2017 19-14 1 2 16 7 0 1, 086 2018 19-17 2 3 14 4 1 1, 433 2019 19-18 1 2 17 5 0 1, 552 2020 16-16 0 0 9 4 0 1, 561 2021 8-8 2 0 11 5 1 717 TOTAL 81-73 5 5 67 25 2 6, 349

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