USC lays blueprint for future success

Despite the USC women’s soccer team’s run-of-the-mill 2012 record of 6-10-3, the Women of Troy competed hard throughout the season, ending on a high note with a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over UCLA.

Building block · Jordan Marada, who led the Women of Troy with 15 points in 2012, will provide next year’s squad with a dangerous scorer. – Chris Roman | Daily Trojan

The Women of Troy entered the season with 20 of their 34 players making their USC debuts as either freshmen or transfers. The team still retained a veteran presence, however, with seven of its 11 goal scorers from 2011 returning, including junior midfielder Elizabeth Eddy, who led the team last year with four goals — two of which were game-winners.

USC’s 3-6-2 record in Pac-12 play placed it seventh in the conference. The team also missed the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year after not missing postseason play since 2004.

Though lacking in experience, almost all of the Women of Troy’s games went down to the wire. Perhaps no statistic exemplifies this more than the fact that they played nine overtime games — in which they went 2-4-3 — and that 16 of USC’s 19 games were decided by a one-goal margin or less. The Women of Troy were only outscored 34-27 on the season.

The women’s soccer team began the season 2-1 for the first time since 2008, winning both its season and home openers, including a 4-1 win over Saint Mary’s on Aug. 24. It was the team’s highest scoring home opener since 2007, when USC’s championship season began with a 5-1 win over Weber State. The Women of Troy followed that up with a 1-3-1 stretch before entering conference play, only scoring six goals in that span.

After starting off conference play with a 1-0 win against Washington, USC went winless in its next five games — including two ties —  before snapping that streak as well as a 258-minute scoreless streak against Utah.

USC appeared to step its game up against some of the best teams in the nation, as the team closed out its schedule against No. 1 Stanford, No. 21 California and No. 2 UCLA.

The team would have pulled off a major upset against Stanford if not for an offsides call overturning the game-winning goal, allowing the Cardinal to seal the 1-0 win. Similarly, USC fought California evenly until Cal took advantage of a defensive miscue to beat USC 1-0. Thankfully, their season-ending win over UCLA gives them some momentum heading into next season.

The Women of Troy only lose five seniors next season and will bring in some new recruits to strengthen their young core. Samantha Johnson earned Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors after scoring her 15th career goal (10th most by a Trojan) against UCLA  and also snagged a 2012 All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention. Johson and junior midfielder Jordan Marada notched five goals apiece on the season to pace the Women of Troy. Meanwhile, freshman Jamie Fink earned a spot on the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team, while Marada ultimately led the team in points with 15.

USC had a slight improvement in winning percentage after a 7-14-0 record in 2011 (from .333 to .395), and all the experience in close games over an entire season should help prepare the Women of Troy for next season as they look to get back into the NCAA picture.