The USC women’s soccer team suffered two close losses on their road swing this weekend, falling to Colorado 2-1 on Friday and Utah 1-0 on Sunday. The results knocked the Women of Troy, who have now lost three straight since their upset of No. 8 Stanford, to 6-9-2 overall and 1-6-1 in the Pac-12.
The squad showed promise and offensive ability in both contests, combining to outshoot their opponents 24 to 18. In what has become a disconcerting theme this season, however, the Women of Troy could not capitalize on their opportunities. USC head coach Ali Khosroshahin believes his team has been subjected to a certain amount of plain old bad luck.
“It’s been happening all year, we’ve had plenty of opportunities that we just haven’t been able to convert,” Khosroshahin said. “I have to believe that at some point the ball is going to start bouncing our way.”
Neither team managed a goal during the first half in Boulder, Colo. on Friday afternoon, though not for lack of trying. USC nearly jumped out to a 1-0 lead just before the close of the half when freshman forward Tanya Samarzich fired a near miss that deflected off the goalpost. It would turn out to be the squad’s best scoring chance of the day.
In the second half, the Buffaloes’ Brie Hooks delivered the game’s first goal directly off of a USC offside penalty. It was one of 22 fouls called on the Women of Troy during the game. Six minutes later, Alyssa Herwatt doubled Colorado’s lead with another transition goal.
USC then began its comeback effort, inspired by junior goalkeeper Caroline Stanley. Stanley found defender Marlee Carrillo with a free kick in the 88th minute, and the sophomore knocked in the team’s only goal of the weekend. Carrillo’s third goal in two matches turned out to be too little too late for her team, who simply ran out of time after many offensive chances. The result marked the 12th win of the season for Colorado, who garnered several votes in the last coaches’ poll rankings.
Making matters worse for the Women of Troy was the high altitude of Boulder, which Khosroshahin admitted took a toll on his team.
“We struggled with the altitude a lot, especially early on,” Khosroshahin said. “It obviously wasn’t our best game, but to fight back and give ourselves a chance to win was really impressive.”
The Women of Troy played aggressive soccer on Sunday as well, outshooting a solid Utah team 16-6 in Salt Lake City. Once again, however, the team could not convert on any of their many chances.
In another scoreless first half, Stanley and Utah goalkeeper Lindsay Luke were the standouts, trading impressive saves and keeping clean sheets. Freshman forward Kayla Mills and sophomore midfielder Megan Borman created USC’s best chances in the opening half, but could not score.
The Women of Troy remained on the attack in the second, with good opportunities from Mills and sophomore forward Katie Johnson. Still, Luke didn’t budge in maintaining the scoreless tie.
In the 76th minute, Utah turned the tables and finally got past Stanley for a heartbreaking goal. The Utes’ Allie Wisner scooped up a deflected save and fired a winner into the back of the net. USC had managed a score during the final ten minutes of play in their previous two games, however, and remained upbeat down the stretch.
Senior midfielder Jordan Marada had a few good opportunities, but it was Mills who appeared ready to give USC an equalizer in the final minutes. Luke dashed USC’s hopes once again, however, coming up with an impressive diving save to preserve the win. The victory moved the Utes to 8-3-6, with a 4-2-2 Pac-12 mark.
After nearly a full season’s worth of tough losses, Khosroshahin has now become accustomed to teasing silver linings out of disappointing defeats.
“The Utah coaches approached me after the game, and they felt that we made their team look very average,” Khosroshahin said. “That’s a very good side, and for an opposing coach to say that he felt your team deserved a better result is telling.”
Perhaps even more telling were Khosroshahin’s comments about his players’ handling of such a disappointing season.
“This game can be so cruel at times, and yet so rewarding at others,” he said. “This is a very special group of young women, they are so resilient. I am so proud and confident in them bouncing back.”
The Women of Troy have three games remaining on the slate for 2013, including a two-game home set next weekend. The team will host Oregon at 3 p.m. on Friday before battling Oregon State on Senior Day on Sunday at 11 a.m. A pregame ceremony will honor seniors Autumn Altamirano, Haley Boysen, Mia Bruno, Elizabeth Eddy and Jordan Marada.
The squad will then travel across town for their final game of the year — a rivalry matchup with No. 2 UCLA onNov. 7th. Khosroshahin said this week of practice will be focused on rest and recovery.
“After playing two games at altitude, you have to make sure everyone is recovered and ready to go,” Khosroshahin said. “After that, we’ll go back to work on finishing our scoring chances.”
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