Women of Troy host Washington schools

It will be quite an emotional weekend at McAlister Field.

Pushing ahead · Freshman midfielder Autumn Altamirano dribbles the ball forward against Northern Arizona earlier this season. The freshman scored the decisive goal to beat UCLA 1-0 in the Women of Troy’s last game. - Tim Tran | Daily Trojan

The No. 23 USC women’s soccer team (9-4-3, 2-2-1) will take on the Washington State Cougars (6-11-0, 1-5-0) today at 3 p.m. at McAlister, and will then face the Washington Huskies (10-6-1, 3-3-0) at the same spot on Sunday at 1 p.m. for Senior Day.

“It’s crazy that we’re already seniors,” said senior forward Megan Ohai. “It went by really fast.”

For USC coach Ali Khosroshahin, this is a special class. Khosroshahin came to the program in 2007, along with these seniors.

“These girls didn’t choose to come here because of me,” Khosroshahin said. “The fact that they kept their commitments, and just seeing how much they’ve grow over the four years — it’s tough. We’re excited for them to move on to the next stage in their lives, but it’s sad to see them leave. It’s bittersweet.”

With Senior Day scheduled for Sunday, it would be easy to overlook Friday’s match against Washington State.  But the players — especially the seniors — have some extra motivation. Aside from No. 1 Stanford, who hasn’t lost a Pac-10 game in nearly two years, Washington State is the only Pac-10 team Khosroshahin and the senior class have yet to beat.

“We told the girls that Wednesday at practice,” Khosroshahin said. “All the seniors looked at me like, ‘We haven’t?’ And I was like, ‘Nope.’ Hopefully that’ll give them some extra motivation.”

The teams have battled to scoreless ties the past two years, and Washington State took a 2-1 victory in Pullman in 2007.

“I remember them being a really tough team. They really study what their opponent is going to do, they know everything about you and they’ll do basically whatever they need,” Ohai said. “Their goal is to beat us and ruin our season. They know they’re not going to the tournament, they have nothing to lose. It’s going to be a tough one.”

Senior defender Karter Haug remained optimistic.

“We started out with UCLA [last week],” Haug said. “We had never beaten them before in Pac-10, so hopefully we’ll keep it going this weekend.”

In order to do so, the team knows its defense will have to continue the stellar play its displayed this season. Anchored by Haug, the Women of Troy backline has allowed just .93 goals per game, third in the Pac-10.

“Our defense is working really well together,” Haug said.

Khosroshahin agreed.

“They’ve done a good job playing as a unit,” Khosroshahin said. “They’ve been the backbone of the team this entire year.”