The Women of Troy take a short road trip this Sunday to play Cal State-Northridge, a school that the women’s soccer program has never lost to. With USC (2-3-0) recovering from three straight comeback losses, that sounds like an ideal opponent for the Women of Troy.
But according to the Matadors’ record (3-1-1) so far this season, this is not the same team that USC is 3-0 against all-time; after all, they haven’t played each other since 2008.
And Northridge has already claimed victories over Michigan (5-2) and San Diego (3-3), whom USC lost to 2-1 in their last match on Sunday.
The deflating defeat, which saw the Women of Troy give up a 1-0 lead for the third straight game, left a bad taste in the mouth of USC coach Ali Khosroshahin.
“We keep leaking goals like this, it’s not good,” Khosroshahin said after the loss. “We’ve got to figure this out in a hurry.”
“After we get one goal, we can’t be satisfied,” said freshman defender Marlee Carrillo. “We need to just keep on going, keep pushing for more.”
The Women of Troy have allowed eight goals off of 31 shots in the second half this season, compared to only three scores from 33 shots in the first half.
Getting their own shots off hasn’t been the problem for the Women of Troy- they’ve outshot their opponents 50-39 during the three-game skid. But they’ve been outscored 8-3 in that same period.
Over the whole season, 10 of the team’s 93 shots have found the back of the net for a .108 shot percentage.
“We just need to learn to finish our chances,” Carrillo said. “We had a lot of shots, a lot of opportunities, we just need to capitalize on them. That’s what we’re working on this week [in practice].”
Khosroshahin says he also wants his team to control the ball more often than they have been.
“We’ve created chances, [but] our possession needs to be better,” Khosroshahin said. “But it’s a young group that hasn’t played together very long, so that part of the game takes a little longer to get better at.”
USC will need to find some more offensive firepower against the stingy Matador defense, which has shut out opposing offenses in three out of their five matches. Northridge senior goalkeeper Cynthia Jacobo, last year’s Big West Goalkeeper of the Year, has made 23 saves with three goals allowed. Jacobo sports a 0.57 goals-against average.
The Women of Troy won’t want to dig themselves in a deep hole against the Matadors; since the start of the 2008 season, Northridge is 23-1-1 when scoring at least two goals.
Luckily for the Women of Troy, the Matadors haven’t been as imposing on offense as they have been on defense. Only seven of their 80 shots have provided pay dirt for a .088 shot percentage.
Statistically, the Matadors are led on offense by senior midfielder Stephanie Galarze (two goals) and senior defender Stephanie Norton (three assists).
Junior midfielder Jordan Marada and freshman midfielder Megan Borman both lead USC with two goals, and Marada also leads the squad with four assists.
Although the Women of Troy were disappointed with their missed opportunities against Duke and San Diego, they seem confident that they can rebound against the Matadors to get another streak going.
“We have to move on and keep our heads up,” said freshman forward Jamie Fink, who says she has extra motivation to win this weekend since her old club coach is now managing the Matadors. “We’ve just got to punish them.”