USC looks to keep pace in Pac-12
Ali Khosroshahin insists that the USC womenâs soccer team has been playing âmust-winâ games seemingly for weeks, but with conference play heating up, that is especially true now.
After losing to Arizona State by one goal and tying Arizona on the road last weekend, the Women of Troy (4-5-2, 1-1-1) stand in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Pac-12 standings. And the road doesnât get much easier, as they head north this weekend to face Oregon and Oregon State in two matches that their sixth-year USC coach and players once again view as âmust-winâ situations.
âRight now, we still dictate our own future, we donât have to rely on anybody else,â freshman midfielder Megan Borman said. âBut if we donât win this weekend, then weâre going to have to do that. So we want to have our destiny in our own hands.â
USC ranks last in the Pac-12 in goals allowed per game at 2.09, and Khosroshahin says his young team will have to stop leaking goals if they hope to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
âIn all the games that weâve played this year, our biggest opponent has been ourselves,â Khosroshahin said. âWe get the better of the play then we make some decisions that are just ridiculous that leads to goals against.â
Players have echoed similar sentiments.
âI donât want to blame it on the young back line, but I think itâs just mental lapses,â Borman said. âItâs just a lack of focus and a lack of discipline with getting back [on defense].â
The return of senior defender Kristina Noriega and senior defender Mia Bruno two weeks ago provided USC with a temporary boost in defense when it recorded its first shutout against Washington at McAlister Field.
But the Women of Troy regressed by allowing five goals to the Sun Devils last weekend, albeit with only nine players on the field by the end of the game because of two player ejections.
âIt sucks that weâre ranked last [in goals allowed], but weâre not concerned at all,â said junior midfielder Autumn Altamirano. âWeâre strong in the back. I think everything will be okay.â
On Friday, the Women of Troy will face Oregon State, which boasts one of the countryâs top young goalkeepers in freshman Sammy Jo Prudhomme, who recorded a Pac-12 best of 13 saves against Cal State Fullerton on Aug. 30. Prudhommeâs 8.60 saves-per-game average pits her almost three points higher than any other Pac-12 goalkeeper.
Oregon State midfielder Megan Miller, whoâs recorded three goals and five assists this season, leads the Beavers (9-3-0, 1-2-0). Junior forward Jenna Richardson tops the squad with four goals.
The Women of Troy will travel to Eugene, Ore. on Sunday to play the Ducks (5-5-2, 0-2-1). Oregonâs top scorer, freshman forward Kristen Parr, has six goals, while no other Duck has more than two scores.
Oregon sophomore goalkeeper Abby Steele has allowed 11 goals in 11 games while collecting 37 saves and recording four shutouts.
The Women of Troy have stellar all-time records against both Oregon schools, but have struggled against them in recent years.
USC is 13-5-1 all-time against Oregon State, but has lost the last three matchups. The teamâs last win over the Beavers was a 1-0 victory in Corvallis, Ore. in 2008.
The Women of Troy havenât beaten Oregon since 2009, after a 2-1 loss last year in Los Angeles and a 1-1 tie in 2010.
âI donât think the opponent really matters right now,â Borman said. âRight now, any team we play is going to be good. The Trojans have been beating the Trojans. We have to get people working back and doing the little things.â
Khosroshahin remains confident his team can rebound.
âWeâre still 1-1-1 in the conference, so weâre still in the thick of things here,â Khosroshahin said. âIf we can get a couple of positive results this weekend, weâre in great shape.â
USC plays in Corvallis on Friday at 1 p.m. against Oregon State before another 1 p.m. kickoff on Sunday against Oregon in Eugene. Fridayâs contest will be televised regionally on the Pac-12 Networks.