After a weekend sweep of the Washington schools, the No. 17 Women of Troy (11-4-3, 4-2-1) ride a three-game winning streak into the desert, concluding conference play against Arizona State tonight at 6 p.m. (8-6-3, 2-4-1) and Arizona (5-11-2, 1-6) on Sunday at 10 a.m.
Following their final two games of Pac-10 play, the Women of Troy head back home to await their postseason fate on Monday when the 2010 NCAA bracket is revealed at 1:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
“You want to go into the end of the season with some momentum,” said USC coach Ali Khosroshahin. “Arizona State and Arizona are two tough teams. We have two tough games on the road this weekend and if we take care of business, we’ll be in pretty good shape going into the tournament.”
Even the players recognized the significance of this last road trip, especially because the last two games away from home ended in a tie and a loss to the Oregon schools respectively.
“We’re just trying to focus on playing our game and being together as a unit,” senior defender Karter Haug said. “We just have to play like we did against the Washington [schools] and UCLA.”
As one of three seniors on the team, Haug stepped up her game last weekend against the Washington schools, scoring a game-winning goal and assisting on three goals, all while anchoring a backline that has recorded three consecutive shutouts.
Haug was recognized for her contributions as she was awarded with USC’s first Pac-10 Player of the Week honor and also the first in her career.
“Karter has been the backbone of our backline with all the different changes that have happened there,” Khosroshahin said. “She’s been the one steady presence in the back so it’s nice for her to get recognized for her play.”
With different changes occurring in the rotation, one notable change for the rest of the season will be the absence of redshirt freshman forward Morgan Morrow, who was injured over the weekend.
The coaching staff believes she is likely done for the season, but Khosroshahin said he isn’t too worried, as the play of redshirt junior midfielder Ashli Sandoval has provided a steady presence for the backline.
“You make the adjustments and move forward,” Khosroshahin said. “Sandoval has [been great]. She is very intelligent about the game and she has amazing skills so it’s second nature for her.”
But with all that has happened this year, the Women of Troy still control their own destiny and are in line to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, assuming they close out Pac-10 play on a high note.
“At this point, I’m hoping they know what they need to do,” Khosroshahin said. “This is a test before our ultimate test.”