For the USC women’s soccer team, things haven’t begun the way USC coach Ali Khosroshahin envisioned.
“We haven’t been good enough yet,” Khosroshahin said. “It’s that simple. We need to be better.”
Following a lackluster start to the 2011 season, the Women of Troy (1-3) will get a chance to even their record with a Midwest road trip this weekend. USC will take on No. 17 Illinois and Purdue in what the coach and his players believe will be a tough test for the team.
“They’re both very solid teams, very hard working teams,” Khosroshahin said. “We’re going to have to play well to have a chance against both of them.”
The Women of Troy will have their hands especially full with the Fighting Illini (4-0), as the contest is a rematch of last year’s NCAA first round contest in South Bend, Ind., which USC won 3-1 in the first-ever meeting between the two squads.
“We know Illinois hasn’t forgotten about that,” senior forward/defender Ashley Freyer said. “They’re going to be coming out hard to try and get a win against us.”
USC’s showdown with Purdue (1-3) is also the second-ever meeting between the two programs. The Women of Troy won the inaugural meeting last season in Fullerton, Calif., by a final count of 1-0.
“Every team wants to come out and beat ’SC,” senior midfielder Brittany Kerridge said. “We try not to worry about individual records and stuff like that because we know every one is gunning for us.”
Though the Fighting Illini and the Boilermakers will present their own problems, Khosroshahin believes the Women of Troy needs to amend their own mistakes and faulty play before the team can focus too overtly on its opponent.
“Our biggest opponent that we face every day is ourselves,” Khosroshahin said. “When this group is determined and focused, I know we can compete against anyone in the country. But you have to have that consistency for 90 minutes, not 87 minutes.”
The players echoed similar sentiments.
“We’re still trying to figure out how to fix our own things from last weekend,” Freyer said. “It’s definitely something that’s day by day. We’re trying to bring every element together. The first three games we played great soccer lost. It’s just figuring out how to win that’ll be the challenge.”
Khosroshahin, while not pleased with the team’s early season struggles, believes the less than stellar start will force USC to increase its focus on game days.
“We’ve been trying to raise our intensity and our desire to compete,” Khosroshahin said. “That goes for every single play. There can’t be any lapses.”
USC will square off against Illinois at 4 p.m. on Friday and take on Purdue at 10 p.m. on Sunday. The two-game Midwest trek is the last half of a four-game road trip for the Women of Troy before they play seven of their next eight at home at McAlister Field. The first four games of that stretch come as part of the Trojan Invitational next weekend.
“It’ll be nice to get home but we can’t look that far ahead,” Khosroshahin said. “We’ve got a job to do and I expect we’ll do it.”