Women of Troy look to continue hot start

The USC women’s soccer team hopes to build on its season-opening winning streak as the Women of Troy take on Cal State Northridge in their first home game of the season at 3 p.m. on Friday.

No. 22 USC (2-0) opened its season at the USD Tournament last weekend in San Diego, beating No. 11 San Diego State 4-1 before defeating the host Toreros 4-2.

Senior forward Elizabeth Eddy, who became the first USC player since 2010 to be named Pac-12 Player of the Week, led the offensive surge with three goals in the two matches. Sophomore midfielder Jamie Fink and freshman forward Tanya Samarzich each added a pair of goals for USC, while freshman forward Kayla Mills had a pair of assists.

“We did score a lot of goals last weekend, but I think we’re capable of more,” USC head coach Ali  Khosroshahin said. “We just need to be smarter in our decision-making. I haven’t had a team that worked this hard and cares this much in a long time. It’s an absolute treat to be out here with them every day.”

Junior goalkeeper Caroline Stanley has converted 5 of 6 save opportunities in two games and the Women of Troy’s backline has performed admirably in limiting opponents’ chances so far.

“I think the biggest difference that was displayed this past weekend was the atmosphere,” redshirt junior defender Mia Bruno said. “The environment of this team is so much more positive, and we finally get along as a team. We enjoy each other’s company and I think that translates on the field.”

The Women of Troy have outshot their opponents 34-16 (16-9 on goal) in their first two games, including 16-6 in the first half.

USC hopes to add to the struggles of the Matadors (0-2), who have been outscored 5-0 this season in losses to No. 5 UCLA and Arizona State. They have been outshot 26-11 (8-6 on goal), with four players tied for the team lead with 2 shots each.

Last year, Northridge finished with an overall record of 11-5-6 and Big West record of 6-1-2 to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament, where they fell to San Diego State in the first round 3-0.

The Matadors’ roster looks drastically different from last season after graduating top scorers Melissa Fernandez (8 goals, 5 assists) and Stephanie Galarze (4 goals, 1 assist). They’re also breaking in two freshman goalies, Rebecca Harper and Jovani McCaskill — with Harper starting both of the first two games.

Junior forward Brittanie Sakajian (1 goal, 5 assists) boasts the highest point total of all returning players, and scored her only goal last season against the Women of Troy in the teams’ 1-1 draw.

The Women of Troy are 3-0-1 all time against Northridge.

“This is the first time since 2008 that we’ve had more healthy returners than new players,”  Khosroshahin said. “It’s really nice that we have the returners helping you teach the game plan, and we haven’t been able to do that for a few years.”

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