Soccer opens NCAA tournament with shutout victory at home

Senior forward Hailey Hite celebrates with sophomore midfielder Arlie Jones following a goal on Friday. (Emily Smith | Daily Trojan)

The Women of Troy shutout the Long Beach State 49ers 6-0 with six different goal scorers at home on Friday to advance to the second round of the NCAA College Cup.

“This is the kind of way you want to open postseason play,” head coach Keidane McAlpine said. “I love the passion we played with, and it’s exactly what we need going forward.”

Following their loss to UCLA last weekend, the Trojans found out that they were given a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament on Monday.  However, they were ranked second-best in the country for most of the season.

“[The 6-0 win showed] that we’re really good,” McAlpine said. “We plan to show up at the next game and be really good again.”

At halftime, the Trojans comfortably led 2-0. Throughout the first half, the Trojans were in control of the game, having most of the possession and much of it in their offensive third. Moreover, the Trojans had 13 shots in the first half alone compared to the 49ers’ one shot from outside the box.

Redshirt junior forward Natalie Jacobs started the scoring in the first half when she headed the ball into the back of the net in the 20th minute. The goal came as a result of confusion within the box. From that goal on, the Trojans never looked back.

Five minutes later, sophomore box-to-box midfielder Alea Hyatt scored a left-footed volley into the upper lefthand corner of the goal from inside the box off an assist by sophomore box-to-box midfielder Tara McKeown. The finish took of skill and concentration, but Hyatt managed to keep calm to make the score 2-0.

The Trojans did not slow down in the second half, scoring 4 more goals in the second 45 minutes to easily claim an uncontested victory.

“We’ve got bigger goals, we got big goals,” McAlpine said of the team’s aggressive second-half play despite its significant lead. “In order to reach them, we have to play and we have continue to push and play the way we want to play consistently for 90 minutes. Even though the score was 4 at 62 [minutes], we need to play for 90 and that was important.”

McKeown scored the opening goal of the second half after she was teed up for a wide open goal from Jacobs in the 53rd minute. Jacobs received a long ball down the left hand side from redshirt sophomore attacking midfielder Savannah DeMelo, and she took out down to the endline, beat a defender and crossed it to McKeown who had a wide open goal. Prior to crossing it to McKeown, it appeared that Jacobs was fouled in the box but never went down, and was still able to play McKeown with a great ball despite being fouled.

Senior forward Leah Pruitt was next to get her name on the score sheet as she scored from a one-footed finish to the far post of the goal. The goal came from a driving run forward by DeMelo who sent the ball onto the wing to Hyatt, who then crossed it over to Pruitt to finish and make it 4-0 in the 62nd minute.

One minute later, DeMelo was the fifth Trojan to score as she slotted the ball past the keeper from about 15 yards out. The goal was a team effort, as the Trojans connected a lot of passes prior to DeMelo scoring. Hyatt had a clear shot on goal from a tougher angle than DeMelo, but instead of attempting to shoot, she gave the ball up to her teammate who was at a better angle to finish off the movement.

“She was in a much better position than I was and I knew that, so I gave it to her,” Hyatt said.

McAlpine said Friday’s game was one of Hyatt’s best performances.

“[Hyatt] played free with a clear head and let it go,” McAlpine said. “That’s the kind of performance we need. And we allowed her to. We gave her touches, we gave her touches and we allowed her to get into the game early, and once that happens today, it looked good. ”

Senior forward Hailey Hite scored the sixth and final goal for the Trojans off of an assist from freshman defender Ashley Soto in the 80th minute of the game to cap off an impressive victory for the Women of Troy.

Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, forward Penelope Hocking, left the field with an ankle injury. Her status for the next game has yet to be determined.

The Trojans will play the winner of Sunday’s LSU-Boston University game next Friday in their next round of the NCAA tournament. That game will take place at Florida State following the Seminoles’ 1-0 victory against Loyola Chicago on Friday. Florida State is the No. 1 seed in the Trojans’ side of the bracket.