USC women’s soccer team trying to reverse fortunes against UCLA
On Dec. 7, 2007, the USC womenâs soccer team defeated UCLA 2-1 in the NCAA semifinals on its way to the programâs first national championship. That win, however, represents USCâs only victory against the Bruins in the last 11 games of the crosstown series.
The Women of Troy are 3-17-1 all time against UCLA, including a pair of losses to their rivals last season.
âItâs a step the program needs to take,â USC coach Ali Khosroshahin said about beating UCLA.
Doing that will be no easy task again this season, with the Bruins (14-2-1, 5-1) entering Friday nightâs nationally televised match ranked No. 3 in the nation.
No. 18 USC (12-5, 4-2) will have to first contend with a trio of dangerous Bruin attackers.
Senior forward Lauren Cheney, who has played 16 games for the United States womenâs national team including three games at the 2008 Olympics, is a three-time first-team All-American and has nine goals and six assists on the year.
Sophomore forward Sydney Leroux is tied for second in the Pac-10 with 15 goals on the season and senior forward Kristina Larsen has added eight goals.
âTheyâve got a ton of great players,â USC senior goalkeeper Kristin Olsen said.
UCLA has won 14 of their last 15 games, the only blemish being a 2-0 road loss to No. 1 Stanford.
USC sits in fourth place in the Pac-10, two spots behind the Bruins, after a weekend split at home with the Oregon schools.
Khosroshahin was pleased with his teamâs improved effort in Sundayâs 1-0 win over the Ducks but still thinks his team can play better.
âWe have to play smarter,â Khosroshahin said. âIf we donât play smarter, itâs going be a difficult match.â
USC will rely heavily on Olsen, an All-American between the pipes. Olsen has been named Pac-10 Player of the Week twice this season and leads the Pac-10 with 80 saves, 30 more than her closest competitor.
âSheâs a huge player for us,â redshirt senior defender Meagan Holmes said. âEvery game she comes up big for us and I can always count on her back there.â
Junior midfielder Alyssa DĂĄvila will be counted on to lead the Women of Troy offense against a stout Bruins back line. DĂĄvila leads USC with nine goals and is tied for the team-high in assists with four.
Looking to change up his teamâs fortunes after an upset loss to Oregon State last Friday, Khosroshahin inserted DĂĄvila into the starting lineup against Oregon. The move paid off as she scored what proved to be the game-winning goal less than eight minutes into the match.
The Women of Troy understand the importance of the rivalry with the Bruins, but they say theyâre treating it like any other game.
âWeâre just going to play our game and not change anything for them,â Holmes said.
âBig rivalry,â DĂĄvila added. âBut weâre just looking forward to taking care of business.â
Fridayâs game will kick off at 7 p.m. at UCLAâs Drake Stadium, the site of UCLAâs 1-0 win in the NCAA tournament round of 16 that ended USCâs season a year ago.