After losing to Florida State on a last minute goal, the women’s soccer team beat UC Riverside 2-0 on Friday. Their record improves to 2-1.
The win was especially significant because the Southern California region is a soccer hotbed, with Pepperdine and UCLA also ranked in the top 25. The Women of Troy currently claim the No. 17 rank in the country, and their stock is rising.
With a goal difference of plus-two and excellent strength of schedule, the team’s resumé is shaping up nicely.
Head coach Keidane McAlpine made some crucial personnel decisions for the game, bringing on Mckenzie Taylor and Sydney Johnson in the second half. Taylor opened the scoring on 75 minutes before Johnson sealed the deal just 12 minutes later.
The underclassman duo of Taylor and Johnson helped the team find the back of the net, but McAlpine deserves the assist for making the adjustments.
The Women of Troy are striking the ideal combination of getting consistent play from the starters while also having a number of impact players who come off the bench and contribute.
In the season opener against Texas Tech, Hailey Hite subbed in and scored the lone goal to give the Women of Troy the win. Against UC Riverside, two substitutes scored to help the team to victory.
Before the clash with UC Riverside, McAlpine explained that he wanted to get more players involved in the action.
“Trying to deepen the bench a little bit — add a few more players to the rotation — I think that is going to be important to our longevity,” he said.
Deepening the bench proved effective against Riverside, as Taylor and Johnson served as catalysts and ultimately made the difference on the scoreboard. Friday’s game was the season debut for both Taylor and Johnson.
Their play complemented that of starters like midfielder Morgan Andrews, a transfer from Notre Dame who logged six total shots on the day. Two were on target and one just missed.
Through her positive play, Andrews has established that she ought to be a go-to option in the final third. The offensive machine averages four shots per game and looks poised to notch her first goal sooner rather than later.
The defense held yet again, and goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme added her second shutout in three contests.
Senior forward Jamie Fink is pleased with the strides the team is making at the defensive end.
“As the saying goes, defense wins championships,” Fink said. “In the preseason and even in spring, we have been focusing on our defensive tactics and what we need to do defensively.”
This steady play from Prudhomme and the back four will be crucial in the team’s next two games, as the Women of Troy will take on two elite opponents in North Carolina and Duke. Both the Tar Heels and the Blue Devils are ranked in the top 25.
The Women of Troy have two wins and a loss as they prepare for their trip to Durham at the end of the week.