The first USC women’s soccer match that I watched, I was stunned. The Women of Troy defeated Cal Poly 6-1 on Aug. 24 and looked like they had everything figured out. By no means did they play perfect soccer, but they played with so much confidence and composure that they could have beaten any team on that day. They meant business.
The Trojans had two impressive results over the weekend proving that they are not pretenders, but contenders this season. The Women of Troy traveled to Florida to battle the No. 4 Florida State Seminoles and the No. 22 Florida Gators. They came out of the weekend with a 3-0 victory against the Gators and a scoreless draw against the Seminoles.
The Women of Troy had their backs against the wall throughout the whole first half against the Seminoles. They were out-possessed and out-shot for most of the game against a really good opponent. While the Trojans weren’t playing their best soccer, they were able to grind out a draw and not lose to one of the best teams in the country, which, to me, was the most impressive part about the team this weekend.
A good tournament team in soccer isn’t always the one that has the best players on the pitch or that scores the most goals. The best tournament team is the one that doesn’t lose tough games and can deliver results even when they aren’t playing at their highest level. Against the Seminoles, the Trojans showed that they are able to do that on the road.
The Trojans play a 4-4-2 diamond midfield formation under head coach Keidane McAlpine. The diamond midfield allows them to play with one defensive midfielder, two box-to-box midfielders, and one attacking midfielder. It’s a balanced formation which releases redshirt sophomore midfielder Savannah DeMelo to play higher up the pitch and be more of a creative outlet.
Junior defensive midfielder Jalen Woodward is also an integral part of keeping the balance and the shape of this team. Her job offensively is to link up play from the backline towards the midfield to start the team’s possession. Defensively, she is tasked with helping the rest of the defense and staying behind to provide cover from the opposition’s midfield. With DeMelo playing higher up the pitch, it is important that Woodward stays back to stop teams from breaking on the counter-attack. Moreover, it is important that she wins back possession for the team.
Defensively, the Trojans have shown that they are compact and composed. It’s a cliché in all of sports, but in soccer, it is definitely true: defense wins championships. If a team doesn’t let up a goal, they can’t lose in open play since they can only get knocked out in a penalty shootout. This makes it crucial that the Trojans stay tight defensively throughout the season.
Senior Ally Prisock is a quality leader of the backline and a no-nonsense defender. She started all 25 games in the 2016 season that won USC the national championship. Her experience is imperative to the success of the backline and to the overall success of the team.
Moreover, the Trojans showed in other games that they have a surplus of great quality in their team that can spark magical moments during their matches. DeMelo has shown already throughout the season that she can make anything happen out of nothing. The same can be said of senior forward Leah Pruitt. If the Trojans have an opponent like Florida State, they know that as long as they stay solid defensively, they have the offensive quality to change a game with one moment. One moment is all it takes to win a game.
The Trojans have a defense that doesn’t leak goals, a midfield that can maintain possession and create valuable opportunities, and a front-line that can score goals when called upon. In addition, they have a goalkeeper that has only allowed one goal this season and has a year of experience behind her. They have players sitting on the bench with international experience. Oh, and they have a coach who has already won a national championship. From top to bottom, the Trojans have the quality to face any team at any level and compete.
Robby Aronson is a sophomore majoring in journalism. His column, “The Bottom Line,” runs every other Wednesday.