After suffering its first defeat of the season on Sunday to No. 1 Stanford in Palo Alto, the women’s soccer team look to start a new win streak with two home games against Arizona on Thursday and Arizona State on Sunday.
Claiming the seventh-best backfield average in the country, the Trojans 9-1-1 have consistently been one of toughest defensive lines in the Pac-12 with notable play from redshirt sophomore goalie Kaylie Collins and senior defender Ally Prisock. USC continues to prove its defensive strength, as Stanford’s goal was the first against the Trojans in 432 minutes and only the 4th goal USC has conceded this season.
After a 1-0 overtime win against the Golden Bears last week, head coach Keidane McAlpine stressed the need for the Trojans to play every game at their highest level.
“Often time you learn more in losses, so we can learn from this,” McAlpine said. “We played a really, really gritty game, but we have to be able to execute, especially as fatigue sets in.”
The Wildcats tout a 8-2-1 record. Though Arizona is not as stout as Stanford, the Trojans will still need to control the pace and possession as they have been for a majority of games this season.
The last time the Trojans faced the Wildcats, the game went into double overtime with a game-winning penalty kick putting the Trojans up 1-0. Both teams created multiple scoring opportunities, as USC outshot Arizona 15-8, but their respective impressive defensive fronts are what ultimately sent them into overtime.
The Trojans can expect the same level of defensive tenacity from the Wildcats but will also need to watch out for key offensive players like sophomore forward Jada Tally, who has 6 goals and 12 points this season. Not only will the Trojan defense need to hold down its end of the field, but the offensive line will also need to be aggressive, take possession early and seize all scoring opportunities.
As for Arizona State, the Sun Devils have a 6-3-1 record and will be coming off of a 2-0 loss to Utah heading into this weekend’s game.
Last time the Trojans took on the Sun Devils in Arizona, USC erased a 1-0 Sun Devil lead in the 60th minute to win the game with a final score of 2-1. An aggressive offense, with a successful penalty kick and a highlight worthy goal over the hands of the Sun Devil goalie, combined with a tenacious defense, led to a Sun Devil shutout in the second half.
With their loss last weekend, the Sun Devils will work on their offensive prowess, preparing to take on the strong Trojan defense. The Trojans will need to take control of the game early and secure their defensive line against standout Sun Devils like freshman forward Nicole Douglas, who has racked up 6 goals this season.
USC will play the Wildcats on Thursday and the Sun Devils on Sunday at McAlister Field.