The USC women’s soccer team was hoping to bounce back from a tough loss in its Pac-12 opener against Arizona State when it returned home to McAlister Field to face Washington and Washington State on Friday and Sunday, respectively. Unfortunately, the Women of Troy finished the weekend winless in conference play, suffering a 1-0 loss to the Huskies and a 2-0 loss to the Cougars.
Friday’s match was a battle of two opposing mindsets, pitting an aggressive USC (5-6-1, 0-3-0 Pac-12) team against a more defensive Washington (5-5-1, 1-0-1 Pac-12) squad. The Huskies entered the game with 10 goals scored and 10 goals allowed on the season, while USC had 21 goals scored and 11 goals allowed in their first 10 matches of the year. The teams appeared to switch game plans in the early goings, with Washington spending most of the opening minutes on the USC side of the field. The Huskies outshot the Women of Troy 7-4 in the first half, scoring the lone goal in the final minute on a shot from the left side by forward Allie Beahan, her second of the season.
USC picked up the pace in the second half, missing out on a few scoring opportunities, including a pair of shots from freshman forward Tanya Samarzich and senior midfielder Jordan Marada around the 90th minute, which were both blocked. USC outshot the Huskies 7-2 in the second half and 11-9 for the match.
“We compete, and I think our possession is fine, but we can’t put that final shot away,” junior forward Jess Musmanno said. “I don’t know what it is, but we’re getting really unlucky in that last third.”
USC junior goalkeeper Caroline Stanley finished with four saves on five shots on goal, helping keep the game close. Washington’s Megan Kufeld had two saves.
“The final third just wasn’t happening for us,” USC head coach Ali Khosroshahin said. “We weren’t able to get any good looks today. The looks we did get were forced looks, lax, impatient. We’ve got to get better.”
The Women of Troy went back to their more offensive playing style against the Cougars (8-1-3, 1-1-1 Pac-12), generating better scoring opportunities and more effectively moving the ball around Washington State’s half of the field. A corner kick from sophomore midfielder Jamie Fink was deflected by sophomore defender Whitney Pitalo in the 26th minute, but the ball went just left of the post.
Washington State got on the board in the 37th minute, with midfielder Mesa Owsley getting a shot over the outstretched hand of Stanley to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead. They almost got another quick one past Stanley on a fastbreak three minutes later, but the ball went over the crossbar.
“We got a lot of numbers up top and made sure that the people at the front were working their behinds off,” senior forward Elizabeth Eddy said about the increased pace of play in Sunday’s match.
The Cougars outshot the Women of Troy 6-5 in the first half. USC’s aggressive play was evident on the stat sheet, as they committed eight fouls to Washington State’s six.
USC continued their aggression in the second half, generating several scoring chances that the team was unable to capitalize on. Washington State added to their lead when forward Kourtney Guetlein scored after a USC turnover to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead. The Women of Troy were able to keep generating opportunities to cut the deficit, but couldn’t put a shot on net, finishing the game with only one shot on goal out of nine total.
The loss was USC’s fourth straight and first of the season by more than one goal. The Women of Troy have been held scoreless in almost 380 minutes of game time and have yet to score in Pac-12 play.
“When you’re struggling to score goals like this, you fall behind and the pressure adds on,” Khosroshahin said. “I thought the ladies kept battling and working all the way ‘til the end.”
The Women of Troy will have their work cut out for them as they look for their first conference win, with a road trip up north to take on No. 13 California (9-0-3, 2-0-1 Pac-12) on Oct. 11, followed by a big match against No. 2 Stanford (9-1-1, 2-1-0 Pac-12) on Oct. 13. They will then return to McAlister Field to take on Arizona (5-4-3, 0-3-0 Pac-12) on Oct. 18. All three games will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.
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