The USC women’s soccer team will look to build off of its impressive road upset of then-No. 5 Stanford last weekend with another Pac-12 matchup against Arizona Friday afternoon. The 3 p.m. home clash was originally scheduled for McAlister Field, but was moved to the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday.
Regardless of the stage, the squad is focused on claiming its second Pac-12 win and maintaining the momentum from its successful Bay Area trip. USC (6-6-2, 1-3-1) claimed a hard-fought 1-1 draw with then-No. 8 California before a stunning victory over Stanford, the first two positive results from its conference slate after dropping three in a row to start Pac-12 play.
USC head coach Ali Khosroshahin felt good about last weekend’s results, and is confident in his team going forward.
“It’s always nice to go up to Cal and Stanford and come away with points,” Khosroshahin said. “It was something that we haven’t done in a while, so it was really an affirmation of our hard work.”
Even with a 6-5-3 record and only one conference win in five tries, the Wildcats should offer the Women of Troy a true test. Arizona is coming off a 2-0 win over Oregon State and 1-0 loss to Oregon, but previously played the Pac-12’s best teams extremely tough.
The team took three consecutive 2-1 losses to No. 2 UCLA, Cal and Stanford, with the Stanford loss coming in double overtime.
Senior forward Jazmin Ponce is a prolific scorer, tied for fourth in the Pac-12 with eight goals. Ponce should challenge USC’s stout defense, led by junior goalkeeper Caroline Stanley and senior defender Autumn Altimirano. Stanley and the backline have recorded two shutouts this year, while Ponce and the Wildcat offense have tallied six goals twice this year.
“They are a team that’s a lot like us,” the seventh-year coach said. “They work extremely hard, but things haven’t necessarily gone their way this year.”
Arizona has been solid this year on the defensive end as well. Goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman has been a picture of consistency, allowing 14 goals in 14 appearances and recording three shutouts.
It will take a strong offensive effort from the Women of Troy to break down the Wildcats’ defense, which has but newfound offensive star Alex Quincey should play a role. The junior midfielder posted her first two goals of the season in dramatic fashion last weekend, and should continue to contribute.
The venue change is good news for the Women of Troy, who are 27-9-3 all time at the Coliseum. That record includes two wins over Arizona in the 1990s, both of which featured six-goal efforts from USC.
“It’s always exciting to play at that venue,” Khosroshahin said. “It’s really evidence that the administration supports us and has confidence in us.”
USC will take the rest of the weekend off after facing the Wildcats and are looking forward to a road trip to Colorado and Utah next week. Friday’s game will be televised live by the Pac-12 Network, with live online broadcasts on the Pac-12 website and USCTrojans.com.