The Trojans face a tough test this weekend as they travel to Florida to face No. 4 Florida State and No. 22 Florida. The Trojans will look to overcome what appears to be the toughest back-to-back series of the season.
USC is coming off an impressive display last weekend when the team added two victories to its record and scored 11 goals in the process. The Trojans moved up in the United Soccer Coaches ranking to No. 7 following their performances against Cal Poly and Pepperdine.
The team’s key player was redshirt sophomore Savannah DeMelo who was named to the Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week. She had a fine performance in the attacking midfield position against Cal Poly and notched 2 goals against Pepperdine over the weekend.
“I thought [DeMelo] was really good. She’s got great ability to break people down and dribble,” head coach Keidane McAlpine said after the Cal Poly game. “But I want to see her connect more passes and be a little bit more dangerous on the pass, but all in all, she’s our 10 and she plays that way for sure.”
The front three partnership of DeMelo, redshirt junior Natalie Jacobs and senior striker Leah Pruitt has proven to be one of the best in the country. Pruitt has done a great job running the channels and creating open spaces to score or assist goals while Jacobs has impressed by being in the right place to create opportunities to score and work hard off the ball. DeMelo has done her job linking up plays from the top of the midfield to create even more opportunities for Pruitt and Jacobs, as well as creating spaces for other midfielders like sophomore Tara McKeown.
“I think [DeMelo and I] work really well off each other,” Pruitt said over the weekend. “We work hard for each other too. And I think having [Jacobs] up top too will be a really good addition. I think we’ll be a cool little trifecta.”
Moreover, senior defender and captain Ally Prisock has looked very composed at the back so far this season. Prisock was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy watch list at the start of the season. She looks to maintain solidity at the back and prevent teams from playing any kind of counter-attacking soccer.
The Women of Troy will battle the No. 4 Seminoles on Friday at 4 p.m. Like USC, the Seminoles have started the season undefeated with four wins in a row. Most recently, the Seminoles took on Middle Tennessee and Wisconsin and comfortably won each game, 3-0.
On Sunday, the Trojans will travel to Gainesville, Fla. to take on the Florida Gators at 3 p.m. Unlike the Seminoles, the Gators lost their last two games to Ohio State and Oklahoma State. They were ranked No. 5 prior to those games, and now face three ranked opponents including USC.
“Florida State is always really organized and [a] very technical [team],” McAlpine said. “They have the ability to break you down with the pass, which I think is very unique with teams. We are going to have to be very sharp in our defending and communicate really well to stop them. And Florida is not that different […] Both teams are going to be very, very good opponents that we are going to have to be sharp and they’re really going to test us.”
While the Trojans face tough opponents on the road, they look to continue on their impressive form and stay undefeated when they return to Los Angeles.