It’s an unexpected thought: The USC women’s soccer team has a chance to emerge from this weekend with a .500 record in Pac-12 play.
To think USC (6-11, 3-5) is now fighting to finish in the middle of the conference says a lot about its season. But even more so, it’s surprising because just two weeks ago the Women of Troy had lost eight straight games and found themselves winless in conference play.
Since then, they have won three straight. And if they can knock off Utah on Friday and Colorado on Sunday, they will be 5-5 in the conference going into their final game of the season next weekend at UCLA.
“I don’t really think about that,” USC coach Ali Khosroshahin said. “Our record is not indicative of the talent on this team.”
Two weeks ago USC was dead last in the Pac-12. Heading into this weekend the Women of Troy stand in eighth place with a chance to move up to sixth with a pair of wins and a little help. Despite this, the team still feels it has a lot to play for.
“Our energy, our confidence, those have come a long way,” Khosroshahin said. “Our practice is still like we’re preparing for the tournament. Because that’s what you got to do to be competitive.”
Khosroshahin expects the depth of the Pac-12 conference to be on display this weekend. Utah (8-8-1, 4-4-0) has held its own in its first season in the Pac-12, including knocking off then-No. 19 Oregon State as well as Oregon in Eugene — two teams that defeated USC earlier in the season. USC, however, is 3-0 all-time against Utah.
The Utes are led by forward Erin Dalley’s five goals and two assists, and goalkeeper Hannah Turpen, who has recorded 54 saves and allowed just 22 goals in 16 contests.
Colorado (4-10-2, 1-6-1) notched its first Pac-12 win of the season last weekend by topping California — another squad that bested USC earlier this year.
The Buffaloes, meanwhile, are paced by forwards Anne Stuller and Kate Russell, who both have four goals apiece on the year. The Women of Troy are also undefeated against Colorado boasting a 2-0 record.
Despite USC’s past success against the two squads, the coaching staff understands the importance of taking these games seriously.
“We’re going into it like any other conference weekend,” Khosroshahin said. “Two tough matches on the road.”
But as always, Khosroshahin’s focus is steadfast on his own squad.
“We’re on a roll here now,” he said. “We’re more cohesive now than we were in the middle part of the year. And I think winning definitely has something to do with it.”
USC squares off against Utah at 6 p.m. on Friday and faces Colorado on Sunday at noon.