Randle shines on defense

Not only does USC’s women’s soccer franchise have a solid selection of talent -— old and new — to fill out this season’s roster, but the team is also growing stronger as a unit on the field each day.

“This team couldn’t be more different than the teams of the past,” junior defender Dominique Randle said.

Randle said the team’s biggest improvement since her Trojan start three years ago is confidence.

“I see our team improving on our movement off the ball and reading each other better,” Randle said. “I think over the past year, we all really connected and understand how everyone plays.”

The addition of transfer players Sydney Myers, from Santa Clara, and Amanda Rooney, from North Carolina, are also proving to be a big asset to this collective mindset in the current preseason.

“Now, we added a few players and developed a style of play that complements the type of players we are,” Randle said. “We are trusting ourselves and our abilities more than we have in the past.”

As far as this season goes, though, everyone has something to contribute to the journey.

“We have built such a strong team dynamic that every player has an influential role on the team,” Randle said. “Compared to other teams in the conference, I think we pride ourselves in making sure every last player can play any position. Being interchangeable is what makes our team so unpredictable and dangerous.”

Randle, the No. 5 defender, is among the pack of influential Trojans on the field this season. After being redshirted freshman year from an injury, she came around in 2014 to make big contributions for the Women of Troy. Randle finished the season with four shots and 20 starts out of 21 games played.

“She’s got a unique story having to fight through the injury for the first part of her career and last year finally making it through a season and not just making it through, becoming one of our best defenders,” head coach Keidane McAlpine said. “Randle’s season turnaround from redshirt to defensive asset highlights her mental fortitude and her determination to succeed.

Randle’s defensive contributions this seasons are among the advantages that could push USC through challenging conference play, but also importantly, give the women a chance at redemption in this year’s NCAA Women’s Championship. The Women of Troy left in the first round last championship after losing to Pepperdine 4-2 in shootouts.

As a collective season, USC finished fourth in the Pac-12 with a 6-5 record, just behind Colorado (6-4).  UCLA finished at the top of the conference with 10-0 and Stanford (9-1) took second.

Nonetheless, last year’s shortcomings seem to have created a goal-oriented outlook for the coming season, where Randle can expect to lead.

“She’s going to be huge for us,” McAlpine said. “Our team last year I think cut 10 goals off the record season total from the year before, and that was one of our goals going into the year. I think the mindset now is to shave more goals off the season, to put us in a better position longterm.”

Thinking more about the team as a unit, Randle also sees goal-fulfilling potential.

“This preseason, we haven’t forgot what we learned so now it is taking what we did last year and integrating the new players,” Randle said. “So far, they are doing better than expected. At the rate we are going, we should be ready for any competition and we should exceed the goals we have set for ourselves.”

According to Randle, the Trojan’s motto this season is, “One Moment, One Now”.

Living up to the motto, Randle says that she and her teammates plan on taking each of their battles on the field one game at a time, regardless of whether they carry conference championship implications.

“Conference games are always a battle, we always want to finish in at least the top three. However, we must prepare for each game individually,” Randle said.

The Women of Troy split their opening weekend, beating Texas Tech but falling to Florida State on a late goal. Their next game is at UC Riverside on Aug. 28.