If the USC women’s soccer team makes a deep run in the playoffs, it will probably look back at this weekend as the defining moment of its season.
The Women of Troy (7-3) went on the road and beat No. 9 Santa Clara 2-0 on Sunday and came from two goals down to beat Pacific 3-2 on Friday. After starting the season 1-3, USC has now won six straight games, including two against ranked opponents.
“The ladies are starting to believe they are a good team,” coach Ali Khosroshahin said. “We talked about earning respect because this is a new situation that we find ourselves in as Trojans. And I thought they did a good job of coming out and earning respect.”
Santa Clara (8-3) came straight at the USC defense with 20 shots, but was turned away time and again by senior goalkeeper Kristin Olsen. Olsen recorded eight saves for her 23rd shutout of her career.
“Kristen Olsen is just Kristen Olsen. She’s becoming a better organizer in the back and she’s realizing that’s making her life easier,” Khosroshahin said.
Olsen anchors a very young backline for USC, which has been decimated by injuries. But after playing together for a few games, the defense has finally found some chemistry and stayed strong against the Broncos.
“We did a good job keeping them in front of us,” sophomore defender Chelsea Buehning said. “They had three players up top and they were moving a lot but we didn’t let them get behind us and we kept ourselves out of dangerous situations.”
Buehning also got into the attack, as she scored USC’s first goal of the game in the 50th minute. After the Broncos cleared a ball out of the box, Buehning gathered it along the left sideline and fired the ball towards the back post, hoping someone would be able to get a head on it. But the result was better than she expected, as it sailed into the upper right-hand corner for her first career goal.
The Women of Troy then held their own as the Broncos came at them with a barrage of shots. But some tough goalkeeping by Olsen kept the Broncos out of the back of the net.
“She was awesome and had my back so many times,” Buehning said. “I’m so confident in her back there.”
A goal on the counterattack in the 90th minute by junior midfielder Alyssa Davila, her fourth goal of the year, ensured the Women of Troy would leave Santa Clara as winners — something No. 5 Notre Dame couldn’t do two weeks ago.