The women’s soccer team heads to San Jose this week for the start of the College Cup, the final two rounds of the NCAA tournament. The No. 7 Women of Troy are among the final four teams standing — winning at home against Eastern Washington, Utah, Texas A&M and Auburn in their earlier ties — and they will face No. 5 Georgetown on Friday for a berth in the championship game.
The semifinal against the Hoyas will mark just the second time in program history that USC has competed in the College Cup. The first time came in 2007, when the Women of Troy defeated Florida State in the final to win the National Championship, which remains their only title to date. Finally back in the Cup now, USC will look to make it two-for-two this weekend.
The Women of Troy played their final home game of the season last Friday, edging Auburn 1-0 in the quarterfinals. But after playing to a stellar 10-1-1 mark at McAlister Field in 2016, they will now have to leave their friendly confines for their final match (or matches) of the season. Thankfully for them, Avaya Stadium is only a 350-mile-or-so trip from the USC campus. The Hoyas, on the other hand, will have to fly cross-country to attend the Final Four.
The Women of Troy will certainly hope the travel slows Georgetown down. Head coach Keidane McAlpine praised the Hoyas’ sharpness on both offense and defense, calling them “the best of both worlds.”
“We’re going to have to be on our game for sure,” he said. “They’re on a great run. They bought in and made history, so their energy is way up.”
Indeed, Georgetown is in the midst of a very impressive year, having earned its first-ever appearance in the College Cup. Key matches during the regular season included the double-overtime victory over current No. 1 West Virginia in Morgantown in September, but also the Hoyas’ 0-3 loss to Stanford in August (USC beat the Cardinal 3-0 a month later. In the NCAA tournament, Georgetown edged St. Francis, Rutgers, Virginia and Santa Clara — who beat USC in its season opener three months ago.
Given the Hoyas’ impressive list of wins this fall, McAlpine expects a significant challenge for his side on Friday.
“They are very, very good in the pressure that they bring to you,” he said. “Their attacking players can beat you by themselves, [and] they can beat you in combinations.”
No matter what happens, however, the marathon 2016 season will soon come to an end. So close to the finish line, McAlpine said coaches and players alike were taking time to appreciate the support around them.
“As long as the season is sometimes … We enjoy playing and getting back to the root of it all — and that’s each other,” he said. “[We’re] enjoying the ride we’re on.”
USC-Georgetown is the second of Friday’s semifinal games and will kick off at 4:30 p.m. After No. 1 West Virginia faces No. 6 North Carolina at 2 p.m. Both matches will be televised on ESPNU. Two sides will then play for the National Championship on Sunday, and the Women of Troy will hope to be there, gunning for their second title.