The USC women’s soccer team (4-4-1, 1-0-0) prepares for its first out-of-state games of the season as it travels to Arizona to play Arizona State (4-5-0, 1-1-0) at 2 p.m. on Friday in Tempe, followed by a trip to Tucson to take on Arizona (5-4-1, 1-0-0) at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.
USC coach Ali Khosroshahin believes the upcoming games will challenge his squad.
“Both of the teams are ahead of us in the RPI formula,” Khosroshahin said. “For us, it’s an opportunity to position ourselves for an at-large bid. We got to bring it and play really well. They’ll be challenging games.”
The Women of Troy are coming off a victory in their first conference game of the season, a victory last Friday over Washington 1-0 on a goal by senior forward Samantha Johnson in the 100th minute. It was USC’s first shutout of the season, and a step in the right direction for a team that had previously allowed 2.12 goals per game, the worst average in the Pac-12. The defensive production was improved partially thanks to the return of senior Kristina Noriega (concussion) and redshirt sophomore Mia Bruno (quad strain).
“We just changed personnel defensively because we need more experience, so mentally we have an advantage,” Johnson said. “Kristina and Mia are back there and they’re helping Erin [Owen] a lot back there now. With experience, you make mature decisions — not making forced passes and holding onto the ball.”
USC has been good in the past against Arizona and Arizona State, going 12-4 lifetime against ASU and 14-3-1 lifetime against Arizona. USC beat both teams last year at McAlister Field, beating ASU 2-1 in overtime and shutting out Arizona 1-0. The Women of Troy have won the last five meetings against Arizona and have not lost to the Wildcats since 2004. USC also holds a record of 2-0-1 on the road in 2012.
“We’re feeling really excited coming off of our first conference win,” said Bruno, when asked about the upcoming games. “We know it’s going to be tough competition. It’s going to be hot out there. We had a really good week at training and we look good, so I think we’re going to go in with a lot of confidence.”
Both games will be televised regionally by the Pac-12 Networks.