Women’s soccer takes to the road for doubleheader

Fresh off what arguably was its most exciting weekend of the season, the No. 19 USC women’s soccer team looks to continue strong as Pac-10 play carries on this weekend in Oregon.

Helping hands · Freshman goalkeeper Shelby Church has been an integral part of USC’s defense, recording seven shutouts this season. Despite USC’s success thus far, Church said that the team can’t take any Pac-10 opponent lightly. - Katelynn Whitaker | Daily Trojan

The Women of Troy (8-3-2) will take on Oregon State (9-1-1) tonight at 7 p.m. in Corvallis, Ore., and move on to Eugene, Ore., to face Oregon (4-6-2) at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

A week ago, USC lost by one goal to top-ranked Stanford. After falling behind 2-0, the Women of Troy cut the deficit to one and nearly netted a dramatic equalizer in the final five minutes. On Sunday, they played what USC coach Ali Khosroshahin called “one of the craziest games I’ve been involved in.”

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first four minutes over then-No. 21 California, USC conceded four second-half goals — including three in the last 15 minutes — to give Cal a stunning 4-3 lead. Unlike against Stanford, the Women of Troy were able to punch in an 89th-minute tying score before winning on a golden goal free kick five minutes into overtime.

After such an impressive weekend, it would be fair to expect a bit of a letdown. But freshman goalkeeper Shelby Church disagreed.

“We can’t take anyone lightly,” Church said. “Last year we lost to Oregon State. Everyone in our conference is tough, and we have to come out strong and play hard and play the way we’re capable of playing.”

Last year USC lost to Oregon State for the first time in 15 years, and the Beavers are no slouch this season either. They won their first five games in shutout fashion, and seven of their nine wins this season have come without conceding a goal. In fact, the Beavers have allowed just seven goals all year. But Khosroshahin insists his focus is on the Women of Troy.

“We try not to get caught up in opponents and ride that roller coaster,” he said. “We just try to keep the focus on ourselves and get better each day.”

Oregon State is coming off a big weekend as well, winning its rivalry game against Oregon 3-2 after star Chelsea Buckland scored the game winner in the 86th minute.

It was Oregon’s third loss in a row, a stretch in which the Ducks have allowed nine goals. Oregon’s defense has been porous this season, failing to shut out a single team since August. USC will certainly be favored over a team that won just one Pac-10 game last year and has beaten the Women of Troy just once in 14 seasons.

But there are no guarantees from Khosroshahin.

“You can throw out records; you can throw out past performances,” he said. “Every year, every team in this conference is capable of beating anyone else. You’ve got to show up and bring it.”