The Women of Troy nabbed two top-10 wins over the weekend, beating No. 7 Loyola Marymount 10-6 at home Sunday in pouring rain after escaping with a 9-7 road win over No. 4 Arizona State Saturday.
After nine different USC (15-3, 3-1) players scored against the Sun Devils (19-4, 2-2) on Saturday, sophomore two-meter Kaleigh Gilchrist broke out to score a career-high five goals against the Lions (11-8) in the gloomy conditions Sunday.
“[Gilchrist] really stepped up today, and we needed somebody to step up,” said USC coach Jovan Vavic. “She got a couple of early goals and her confidence went up.”
Gilchrist was the only USC player to score in the first half against Loyola Maramount, recording her third goal with 1:15 left in the second period to boost the Women of Troy to a 3-2 lead at halftime.
After that, the rest of the squad found their scoring touch.
The Women of Troy outscored the Lions 6-1 in the third period, recording goals on their first four possessions.
“We’ve been getting a lot of great opportunities in other games where we just haven’t finished,” said freshman driver Monica Vavic. “[The third quarter] was just a reflection of us finally putting the pieces of the puzzle together and finishing our shot opportunities.”
Junior driver Dominique Sardo started the streak with a laser that was assisted by Vavic.
Senior driver Nadia Dan tossed a bar-in score on USC’s next possession, then Gilchrist scored her fourth goal to give the Women of Troy a 6-2 lead.
The Lions then responded with a goal of their own, but Gilchrist answered back by evading a double-team in front of the net and pushing in a left-handed score to make the count 7-3.
Junior driver Chelsea Silvers and sophomore two-meter Colleen O’Donnell also recorded goals in the third quarter, completing the scoring surge and giving USC a 9-3 lead that was too much for the Lions to overcome in the final period.
“We took a little while to get started, so we knew we had to pick it up in the second half,” Gilchrist said. “We were being patient and worked on what we’ve practiced for so long, and it all just came together.”
The offense may have sparked USC in Sunday’s win, but clutch defense won the game for the Women of Troy on Saturday against Arizona State.
Going into the fourth period, the score was tied 7-7.
USC put the clamps on the Sun Devils’ offense, holding them scoreless in the final period while Dan and junior driver Blair Moody scored for the Women of Troy to give them the 9-7 win in the MPSF conference match.
“Our defense was excellent in the fourth quarter,” Coach Vavic said. “We really helped each other in transition and half-court defense. Then Nadia and Blair scored two big goals.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Flora Bolonyai recorded 13 saves, six of which came in the fourth period.
Arizona State attacker Alicia Brightwell, who led the MPSF with 2.84 goals per game before this weekend, was held scoreless by the Women of Troy.
“Flora really stepped up in the goal,” Monica Vavic said. “We knew that going into [the fourth quarter] we would need to have more energy than we had the rest of the game.”
The Women of Troy have two home matches this week, hosting Hartwick at 5 p.m. on Wednesday before playing No. 5 California in an MPSF game at 1 p.m. on Saturday.