Soccer to face Colorado away

Senior forward Leah Pruitt has scored 10 goals, a season high for her career as a Trojan. (Emily Smith | Daily Trojan)

The women’s soccer team will face a test as they travel to Colorado on Thursday to take on the Buffaloes.

The Trojans are playing some of their best soccer all season after scoring 10 goals in their last two games against Oregon State and Oregon while conceding none. Following its weekend display, USC now stands at a 14-1-1 record on the year.

Over the weekend, the Trojans introduced a new element to their game that they hadn’t shown much of all season. The Women of Troy have had a lot of shots in games, but haven’t been able to put a lot of them on frame. The team has addressed this issue in practice and has worked on creating more opportunities from wider positions. This was evident in the link-up play and the chances the team created to score its goals in Sunday’s game against Oregon.

“Colorado plays a little bit differently, but some of the elements from this weekend will definitely be in play,” head coach Keidane McAlpine said after the Oregon game. “I think the width will be important for us, but they have such a great counterattack. We’ve got to be careful that even as we attack and create width that we defend well against their two forwards and their attacking midfielder, because they’ve been scoring a lot of goals.”

Colorado currently holds a 13-1-3 record overall on the season. Despite its record, Colorado has been overlooked at times in the rankings due to its lack of quality victories. However, prior to this weekend, the Buffaloes had not lost a game all season despite playing in a competitive Pac-12 conference.

Stanford is currently the top-ranked team in the country, but to lose 7-0 to any team will take away some positive momentum.

It doesn’t get easier for Colorado either as it takes on No. 2 USC Thursday and No. 9 UCLA on Sunday. Facing three top-10 teams in the span of a week will put a toll on any team, no matter how much talent they possess, so the Trojans must look to take advantage of the situation.

“By the time they finish that stretch [of games], everyone in the country will know how legit they are and what kind of a team they are,” McAlpine said. “But I have always thought they are impressive. They are sound defensively, their goalkeeper is a senior. They returned a lot of quality upperclassmen. So, we will lock in and try to continue to move the ball and put shots on frame.”

This season, Colorado has scored 46 goals and conceded 15. Redshirt senior Jorian Baucom has been a key factor in the goals and assists department for the Buffaloes. In 17 games played, she has 12 goals and six assists on the season. Not far behind is junior Tatum Barton, who has 11 goals and four assists on the season. The creative spark of this team is junior Taylor Kornieck who has eight goals and 10 assists. The Trojans must prepare for these players, all of whom are deadly on the counterattack.

The Trojans have similarly scored 45 goals on the year, but hold a better defensive record than the Buffaloes, having only conceded seven goals to date. Freshman forward Penelope Hocking has been a leading contributor for the Trojans with 28 points on the year from 12 goals and four assists while coming off the bench in most games. Senior forward Leah Pruitt has also put up 28 points this season from 10 goals and eight assists. To round the bunch out, redshirt sophomore Savannah DeMelo has contributed six goals and a team-leading nine assists.

USC vs. Colorado will take place in Boulder on Thursday at 2 p.m.