Podcast: Assistant sports editor Kenny Legan chats with USC women’s soccer player Ashley Freyer to preview the upcoming match.
It’s a perfect Hollywood script with enough drama to fill a blockbuster — and one more chapter will be added tonight to this historic rivalry between USC and UCLA.
The women’s soccer teams will go toe-to-toe beneath the bright lights of the Coliseum in a crucial conference showdown at 7 p.m.
“I get up for these games against UCLA,” said senior defender Karter Haug. “I just love playing in these types of games, and to play in the Coliseum is one of the best opportunities.”
This key matchup between the No. 23 Women of Troy (8-4-3, 1-2-1) and the No. 19 UCLA Bruins (9-5-1, 2-2) will be magnified not only because of the rivalry but because USC also hopes to bring in a record-breaking crowd.
The last time the two teams squared off at the Coliseum, a crowd of 7,804 showed up to witness this classic rivalry.
This time, the Women of Troy hope to break that record and also put an end to UCLA’s three-game winning streak against USC.
“It’s a real big game for both teams as far as our position in the Pac-10, and obviously the rivalry is huge,” USC coach Ali Khosroshahin said. “Both teams will be fired up and we’ll be able to play in the Coliseum, so it’s fantastic. It’s what you work for all year … to showcase yourself in front of your home crowd.”
Though UCLA has come out victorious in the last three meetings, the last time the Women of Troy won marked a special moment in Trojan history.
The Women of Troy knocked off UCLA 2-1 in the NCAA semifinals en route to winning the 2007 NCAA championship.
Haug, along with senior forward/midfielder Megan Ohai, senior midfielder Alyssa Dávila and redshirt junior midfielder Ashli Sandoval, were all part of that championship team.
But last weekend in Oregon proved to be a wake-up call for the Women of Troy, as they were plagued by slow starts and inconsistent play and finished the weekend with a loss and a tie.
Despite their recent struggles, Haug believes the team will be prepared.
“I think we’ve learned from our experience and we can look back at how we played and hopefully not do the same things,” Haug said. “But hopefully, we’re progressing each game as well.”
Freshman midfielder Haley Boysen knows the importance of this game and said she believes the team will be ready to redeem themselves.
“Last weekend was a disappointment and we realized we can’t let that happen again,” she said. “We’re better than that. … We’re pumped up for this game and ready to make up for what happened.”
But despite all the hype surrounding the rivalry and the record-breaking attendance aspirations, Khosroshahin said this game is the perfect opportunity for his team to learn and grow.
“We’re just trying to improve the parts of our game that will help us the rest of the season and hopefully in the tournament as well,” he said. “We just have to do the right things at the right times and we’ll be fine.”