The women’s soccer team will face Washington State on Thursday before taking on Washington on Sunday.
The Women of Troy got off to a positive start in conference play after defeating Oregon State 2-1 at home. USC had the better of the play, putting the Beavers on their heels for much of the afternoon.
The team logged 23 shots, hitting the target eight times and forcing Beaver goalkeeper Bella Geist to make several saves.
“I thought we did a really good job of framing the goal and getting people in the box,” head coach Keidane McAlpine said after the game. “I feel like we’re running into the box really well right now.”
McAlpine praised his team’s ability to get into dangerous areas on offense. However, he still wants to see his team improve when it comes to finishing chances.
“I’d like us to still be a little more efficient on that end, especially with the quality of the chances that we’re creating,” he said.
The team has averaged more than 22 shots per game in its past five contests, which has put opponents under tremendous pressure.
Not so coincidentally, the Women of Troy are undefeated in their past five games.
McAlpine was satisfied with the win over Oregon State, but the team conceded a goal in the waning moments of the match, as the Beavers tried to mount a comeback.
The two-goal deficit was too large for Oregon State to overcome, but McAlpine said that his team’s ability to close out games will need to improve in the future.
“That’s an area that we have to clean up if we want to be the best team that we can be,” he said. “That’s a detail that has to improve.”
The Women of Troy have scored nearly twice as many goals as they have conceded this season. A big reason for that is their domination in midfield.
Nicole Molen, Morgan Andrews and Mandy Freeman were a dominant trio yet again, as USC edged out Oregon State.
“I feel very comfortable with Mandy and Morgan in the midfield,” Molen said. “I feel like we have a good system going, and I feel like if we keep rolling with it it’s going to bring good things.”
The three central midfielders have also shown their ability to maintain organization on defense.
“We talked about trying to be a really solid defensive team,” McAlpine said.
In addition, he noted that his team is not only defending well but is also eliminating set pieces for the opposition. This will be key for the team against Washington State and Washington, two talented squads from the Pac-12 North.
McAlpine will be looking for defensive organization and discipline, but he also stressed that he wants to keep opposing sides off the scoreboard. His message to his team moving forward is quite simple: continue to grow.
McAlpine also explained that the team is getting better at building out of the back and is looking more fluid in terms of getting into the final third.
“It’s just about getting better. This is just the beginning, not the end,” McAlpine said.
Washington State, an NSCAA top-25 team, enjoyed a terrific start to the campaign and sits at 8-1-0 heading into the USC game.
Washington, meanwhile, is in the same boat as USC, in that it is on the outside of the top- 25 looking in. The Huskies are looking to bounce back after tying Gonzaga and falling to Arizona.
As the Women of Troy venture to the Northwest to take on these two teams, McAlpine will be returning to familiar territory. He served as the head coach at Washington State for two seasons, earning Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors in 2013.
“It’s always good to go and see some old friends and see some players that you’ve spent a lot of time with and still love,” McAlpine said. “You want them to do well — just not too well when we play them.”