Freshmen and transfers bolster USC
A year ago, the USC womenâs soccer team went about as low as it could go, suffering through 13 losses â the most for the program since its 1993 season.
But after a slew of injuries in 2011, the Women of Troy are back, looking to rebound and get into the national picture.
At points last season, as the losses mounted, it was difficult to believe that USC won an NCAA championship in 2007, a mere 14 years after the programâs creation.
So coming off an uncharacteristically subpar season at 7-13 overall and 4-7 in the Pac-12, the program needed an infusion of young talent â transfers and freshmen. The initial reviews are promising, as this appears to be not only the most talented incoming class USC coach Ali Khosroshahin has ever recruited, but also a group that has heightened the level of enthusiasm surrounding the program.
USCâs dress rehearsal for the 2012 season came in an exhibition match at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Aug. 11. Out of a roster of 34 players, 20 wore cardinal and gold for the first time. Showcasing their talent as new players, all three of USCâs goals involved freshmen. The final result was a 3-0 shutout over the Mustangs.
âWeâre a really young team, but I think thatâs going to be one of our strengths,â said senior midfielder Samantha Johnson. âWeâre going to have a lot of fresh legs and thatâs a big advantage.â
Entering her fourth season on the team, Johnson has played in almost every position on the field with the exception of goalie. Now the veteran, Johnson leads both on and off the field. With the defensive backfield fortified by new recruits, Johnson will return to her more customary role this season as an attacking player.
âIâm making sure that weâre paying attention to the little details,â Johnson said. âThings like making sure that weâre sticking to the game plan and keeping everyone motivated during hard practices or hard times.â
Though the team is adding depth, USC has seven of its 11 goal scorers from 2011, including top-scoring junior forward Elizabeth Eddy. In 2011, Eddy scored four goals, including two game winners.
âSo far, we have been working on team play a lot,â Eddy said. âWeâre working on defending a lot but also on possession, and on just working well together.â
The team officially kicked off its 2012 campaign last Friday against Cal State Fullerton, notching a come-from-behind victory, 3-2.
âAs a group weâre getting more and more acclimated,â Khosroshahin said. âWith 20 new players, obviously itâs going to take some time for everyone to get on the same page, but this group has definitely embraced their roles, and theyâre working very, very hard. Theyâre eager to get out there and represent USC.â