After a mixed weekend of results for the Women of Troy — with one win and one loss during their Midwest road trip — the No. 12 women’s soccer team will look to come back to Los Angeles ready for their games Friday and Sunday against Santa Clara and Iowa State.
Santa Clara (2-3-1), which is also returning from a weekend Midwest road trip, already has a wealth of experience playing Pac-12 opposition this season, with games against No.1 UCLA, No. 24 California and unranked Washington State under its belt with the Broncos. The team’s last game was against Notre Dame and ended in a 4-1 defeat to the Irish, with the Santa Clara defense surrendering 24 shots with 10 on target. These stats represent good news for the Trojans who achieved 19 and 13 shots respectively this past weekend.
However as advantageous as this might sound, the Trojans and Broncos have history, with Santa Clara beating USC 3-2 in a thrilling overtime game last year. The Trojans’ backline, led by junior defender Ally Prisock, will have its hands full due to the lack of a single main goalscorer for the Broncos, with three players scoring multiple goals this season.
Head coach Keidane McAlpine is looking forward to Friday’s game as he sees a solid match-up between the Trojans and Broncos, noting that Santa Clara’s “well-coached” and “great defensive team” will be a test for USC.
The opponent for Sunday’s game, Iowa State (2-3-1), is a team that, at least on paper, looks like an easier proposition for the Trojans. The Cyclones will have just concluded a Friday night game at Cal State Fullerton and come to Los Angeles without the experience of playing a single nationally ranked opponent this season.
The Cyclones are led in scoring by freshman Courtney Powell, who has a conversion rate of one goal every 146 minutes. The freshman leads the team in shots, shots on goal and goals even though she has only started one game this season. The Trojans will have to keep an eye on this freshman throughout the game to prevent her from adding to her season’s goal tally.
However, there is good news for Trojan fans as both the Trojans and Cyclones have faced a common opponent this season in Mizzou, with each team experiencing contrasting fortunes. The Trojans left Missouri with all three points while the Cyclones were on the wrong side of a 2-0 result back in August.
The Trojans must take advantage of a Cyclones defense that gives up an average of 15.5 shots per game, with a little over five shots testing the goalkeeper. This task will be left up to the Trojans’ front line, led by redshirt senior Alex Anthony, who has two goals in three games starting the season.
Even with this seemingly good news favoring a Trojan victory, McAlpine is not so confident. He sees a challenge with the Cyclones’ defense as they are a unit that “defends really well and are really organized.”
Both games should be good tests for the team as both opponents represent unique challenges. As long as the Trojans fix what has been lacking in the attacking third of the field, being more clinical and converting more of their shots into goals, victory in both games should be easier to attain. With positive results this weekend, the Trojans should aim to break back into the top 10 in the national rankings.