After finally breaking through offensively against Oklahoma last Friday, the No. 22 USC women’s soccer team (5-1-2) hopes to take some of that momentum to the Pacific Northwest this weekend.
With the team on a seven-game unbeaten streak, the Women of Troy will visit Gonzaga (3-5-1) for a 4 p.m. match on Friday in Spokane, Wash. On Sunday, they will travel to Cheney, Wash. to square off against Eastern Washington (0-6-1) for a noon game.
With Pac-10 conference play just around the corner, USC coach Ali Khosroshahin said he recognized the importance of the weekend road trip.
“We’ve got three games left to prepare ourselves for Pac-10 play. It’s always good to make a trip to the Pacific Northwest because it’s always a tough place to play,” Khosroshahin said. “It’ll give us a chance to play opponents we’re not accustomed to playing and to prepare ourselves for conference play.”
The players agreed.
“This is a test for us because both of these teams will be tough at home,” senior midfielder and forward Megan Ohai said. “It will set the bar for conference play. If we do well, then we’ll be ready, but we don’t want to take a step back right before [Pac-10] play.”
Taking a step back on offense isn’t on the team’s agenda either, after scoring seven goals in the last two games combined. Despite struggling to convert on opportunities early in the season, the Women of Troy are now showing their capabilities on offense.
“We’re putting away our opportunities and we’re creating for each other,” Ohai said. “I think we’re finally starting to gel, so we’re doing fine.”
Though USC lost redshirt junior midfielder Ashli Sandoval to an injury in the first half of the Oklahoma game, Khosroshahin said it won’t disrupt the continuity of the offense.
“We’ve been moving so many people around the past few games that [Sandoval’s injury] won’t be disruptive with what we’re trying to do right now,” Khosroshahin said.
Although the offense has taken some time to come together, a constant for USC this season has been the play of the defense and freshman goalkeeper Shelby Church.
“They’re doing an awesome job,” Ohai said. “They’ve shut down our opponents and have only let in a few goals, so they’re doing a really great job.”
The defense has only allowed three goals all season, while posting three shutouts in the process — and has yet to allow an opponent to score multiple goals.
Even though the Women of Troy have been playing both sides of the ball effectively in recent games, Khosroshahin said he still sees the need for improvement this weekend.
“We have to take care of the ball, limit scoring opportunities and finish,” Khosroshahin said. “That’s been a point of emphasis since day one. Each week we seem to get better in one area and then fall off in another area. Hopefully, we can string together a good weekend 90 minutes at a time.”