After their 1-0 victory on the road against UC Irvine to start the season on Aug. 16, the Women of Troy will face off against Cal Poly for the home opener on Friday, Aug. 24 at 3 p.m. On Sunday, the Trojans will travel to Malibu for a 1 p.m. matchup against the Pepperdine Waves.
It was a hard-fought battle for the Trojans at UC Irvine, but they managed to claim the victory. UC Irvine won the Big West Conference last season, and came in ranked first in the conference during preseason. To claim this victory on the road is an impressive feat for the Women of Troy and a solid way to start the season.
“Today was a really tough battle against Irvine, they played extremely well,” head coach Keidane McAlpine said. “It’s exactly what we needed to start the year. We showed some toughness and got the goal that we needed in front of a great crowd on the road and found a way to win.”
Redshirt junior Natalie Jacobs was the key player for the Trojans against the Anteaters as she netted the only goal of the game. Jacobs recently joined the Women of Troy as a transfer student from Notre Dame, where she led her team in goals in 2017. The goal was special for Jacobs not only because it helped the team win, but also because it occurred on her birthday.
“Actually, I prayed, before [the goal], I’m not even kidding!” Jacobs said. “And then Leah sends a perfect ball, and I kind of blacked out for a second, and then it went in.”
The goal came off of an assist from senior forward Leah Pruitt. Pruitt will play an important role for the Trojans this season, as she has already scored 10 goals and has assisted on 12 more in her career. She was a part of the 2016 team which won the national championship, and earned All Pac-12 second team honors last season.
In the team’s first game of the weekend, the Women of Troy will host Cal Poly at McAlister Field at 3 p.m. on Friday. Cal Poly, ranked eighth in the Big West preseason coaches poll, had a goalless draw against Marquette last Thursday. The Mustangs are coming off of a 7-9-3 season last year, but the Trojans have yet to beat the Mustangs in their last three matchups.
Senior defender Chelsea Barry is a player to watch for Cal Poly in Friday’s game. The talented defender was named to the Big West Preseason All-Conference team, and will look to lead her team from the back this season. She will try to keep a clean sheet against the Women of Troy on Friday and stop players like Pruitt from creating any chances at goal.
Following the match against Cal Poly, the Trojans will face their toughest test of this young season as they travel to Pepperdine on Sunday for a 1 p.m. game. The Waves were ranked 18th in the preseason polls after winning back-to-back WCC titles and making the second round of the NCAA tournament last year. However, Pepperdine is yet to meet its potential this season, having been shut out against both Kansas and Texas Tech.
Senior Hailey Harbison is expected to lead the Waves in this game. She was named the West Coast Conference Defender of the Year last year and this season, was named to the watch list for the MAC Hermann Trophy, the most prestigious award in women’s collegiate soccer, given to the best player in the nation.
Trojans will look to continue their strong start to the season as they aim for another deep postseason run.