USC suffered two heartbreaking comeback losses this weekend to Duke and San Diego, extending their losing streak to three games after starting the season with two victories.
The 2-1 loss against the Toreros (3-3-0) on Sunday shocked and disappointed USC coach Ali Khosroshahin, who expected a better effort from his squad after a promising performance against No. 4 Duke (6-1-0) on Friday.
“We needed to do better,” Khosroshahin said. “Duke is a top-5 program, and [San Diego] is a team that is battling to survive like we are.”
The Women of Troy, who have focused on “winning the first five minutes” of each match this season, came out of the gates strong against the Toreros.
In the eighth minute, junior midfielder Jordan Marada took a long shot from the left corner of the box that ricocheted in off the right post and into the net to put the Women of Troy up 1-0.
USC would receive another golden opportunity to score just a few minutes later when the Toreros committed a handball in the box. In response San Diego keeper McKenna Tollack made one of her seven saves on the ensuing penalty kick, guessing correctly on senior Samantha Johnson’s attempt to keep her team’s deficit at one goal.
In the 22nd minute, San Diego’s Sierra Ferreira found the equalizer on a centering pass deep in USC territory.
The score held at 1-1 until the 70th minute, when the Toreros closely replicated their first goal on a boot by Mariah Butera.
USC desperately tried to break through again, but despite outshooting San Diego 21-8, the Women of Troy failed to find the back of the net before time ran out.
“We made some mental errors,” said goalie Caroline Stanley. “We feel disappointed today because we feel like we had it in our grasp and we kind of let it go.”
The Women of Troy (2-3-0) followed a similar script against the Blue Devils on Friday, scoring an early goal before surrendering two scores in the second half.
In the sixth minute, Marada blasted a corner kick into the box that found the foot of sophomore midfielder Alex Quincey, who tapped it in for a 1-0 lead against the top-ranked opponent USC had faced this season.
The Women of Troy kept the lead through halftime, but the Blue Devils picked up the offensive pressure as soon as the second half began.
In the 63rd minute, Laura Weinberg sent in a cross from the left side that Kim DeCesare knocked in to tie it up.
Duke rallied for the go-ahead goal just moments later in the 70th minute. Weinberg sent in a corner kick to Gilda Doria at the near post, who flicked a header back to the far post that DeCesare netted for her second goal of the day.
Duke goalie Tara Campbell made three big saves in the waning moments that clinched it for the Blue Devils.
Despite disappointing losses they suffered this weekend, the Women of Troy are said they staying positive and viewing the setbacks as bumps in the road that young teams have to experience.
“I think we started the game really well,” said junior defender Elizabeth Eddy. “Going forward, we just need to maintain that high energy throughout the second half.”
“We’ve faced a lot of adversity, and it’s going to get easier,” Stanley said. “We have to remember that obstacles are stepping stones and not stumbling blocks.”
The Women of Troy return to action next Sunday on the road against Cal-State Northridge (3-1-1).