The last two matches for the women’s soccer team could best be described as a roller coaster. The No. 12 Trojans split their two games over the weekend, topping Missouri and falling to Kansas.
On Friday, the Trojans started their road trip in Columbia, Mo. facing off against the Tigers. Going into the game, the Trojans knew they needed to apply pressure for the entirety of the game, establish their back line and capitalize on scoring opportunities.
The first half was a struggle for the Trojans. Going up against a makeshift defense — as a result of four Mizzou injuries — USC may have been expected to dominate against the Tigers early on. However, two substantial missed scoring opportunities resulted in a scoreless first half.
Although the Trojans missed opportunities on offense, they were able to establish a reliable defense and limit Mizzou to four shots on net. The Tigers were left scoreless in the first half thanks to a magnificent diving save by redshirt freshman Kaylie Collins and a goal line stop on a corner kick by sophomore defender Julia Bingham.
In the second half, the Trojans came out strong. Thirty seconds in, freshman forward Tara McKeown found the back of the net on a cross from redshirt junior midfielder Sydney Myers to give the Trojans the lead.
After taking the lead, the Trojans did not take their feet off the pedal. Eight minutes later, the team struck again as freshman midfielder Savannah DeMelo put away a cross from fellow freshman Tara McKeown. The Trojans’ goals marked both McKeown’s and DeMelo’s first scores in Cardinal and Gold.
The second half saw a dominant USC performance. But head coach Keidane McAlpine was still not satisfied with the way his team played.
“It was not our best performance, but it was good to get a result tonight on the road,” McAlpine said. “We hope to get better as we head into our game on Sunday at Kansas.”
If USC wants to continue to win, it must demonstrate intensity from minute one until minute 90. McAlpine and company knew that as they headed to Kansas to battle the Jayhawks.
USC’s gameplay against the Jayhawks was surprisingly similar to its performance against the Tigers a couple of days prior — a lackluster first half followed by a roaring second half on offense. Unfortunately for the Trojans, this time they weren’t so lucky, as Kansas went up early with a goal from sophomore forward Katie McClure in the 13th minute.
Moving into the second half, the Trojans managed to put shots on net and create scoring opportunities, but were met with resistance. In the 69th minute, the Trojans played a ball back to keeper Kaylie Collins, who was unable to field the pass. The ball bounced into the Trojans’ net to put the Jayhawks up by 2.
In the 74th minute, Trojans redshirt senior forward Alex Anthony capitalized on a penalty kick to halve KU’s lead. The Trojans outshot the Jayhawks 13-6, five of which came from Anthony. Nonetheless, they were unable convert on their scoring opportunities to tie the score and fell to Kansas 2-1.
“I was very disappointed with our performance in the first half,” McAlpine said. “We did not bring enough energy to compete in a game of this magnitude. We played a better second half, but when you give away 45 minutes to a good team, you don’t give yourself the best chance to win, and that’s the lesson that we learned tonight.”
This game means a lot for the No. 7 Trojans, as a loss to an unranked Kansas will likely drop them in the rankings. The Trojans concluded their road trip in Kansas and return to Los Angeles to prepare for a two-game stretch against Santa Clara and Iowa State.