The women’s soccer team concluded its two-game road trip to Arizona on Sunday with a match against Arizona State. After a heart-stopping double-overtime victory over Arizona on Thursday, the No. 6 Women of Troy kept it rolling in Tempe three days later — topping the Sun Devils 2-1 in a come-from-behind victory.
Despite the Trojans’ momentum heading into the match, their first-half performance was lackluster at times, and Arizona State capitalized to grab an early lead with a goal in the 10th minute. USC then dug itself into a deeper hole just before halftime when redshirt senior defender Dominique Randle was shown a red card in the 44th minute.
Head coach Keidane McAlpine’s squad went into the locker room down both a player and a goal, setting up an uphill battle for USC in the second half — the team had tallied just two shots compared to ASU’s nine.
But as they have done many times this season, the Women of Troy regrouped at halftime and came out flying in the second period. They received a boost in the 61st minute, when ASU junior defender Angela Boyle was sent off. The foul evened things up in more ways than one: First, the two teams’ offsetting red cards equalized the number of players on the field for each side, but more importantly, it granted a free kick for freshman forward Tara McKeown.
From the top of the 18-yard box, McKeown curved the ball around the wall and into the far bottom corner. The goal tied the score at 1 and was the fourth score of McKeown’s career in Cardinal and Gold.
USC struck again just 12 minutes later to complete the turnaround — this time from open play. Threatening deep in the ASU defensive zone, the Women of Troy strung together four key passes to steal the lead. Sophomore midfielder Ashleigh Plumptre played an arcing cross off the head of senior midfielder Nicole Molen. Junior forward Hailey Hite was in position to receive Molen’s flick on, and Hite delivered a pass to redshirt senior Amanda Rooney. Rooney finished the play with a magnificent
one-touch shot, placed just below the crossbar to grant USC a 2-1 lead.
Time expired before the Sun Devils could answer, as redshirt freshman goalkeeper Kaylie Collins and the Trojan defense held firm in the final moments. Collins tallied eight saves on the day, doubling her previous career high. The win improved USC’s overall record to 10-1-1 and raised its conference mark to 4-0-1.
The game against Arizona State marked the Trojans’ fifth come-from-behind victory this season, meaning that half of their wins have been in comeback fashion. While USC’s ability to bounce back from a lax first half has been impressive, the team will have to play with its second-half intensity throughout the entire match if it wants to be competitive with top-tier programs, and the Women of Troy have yet to play a team ranked in the current top 25 this season.
Nevertheless, with a 10-1-1 record, USC are in the midst of its best start to a season since 2008 (12-1-1). The Women of Troy’s next test comes Friday, when they will return to McAlister Field to host Colorado.