No. 5 women’s soccer shuts out Washington State
The high-90s heat beat down on McAlister Field Thursday afternoon, as No. 5 women’s soccer hosted Washington State. The Women of Troy came out on top 3-0 in a grueling battle with the Cougars, thanks to goals from junior midfielder Nicole Molen, sophomore forward Leah Pruitt and sophomore forward Hailey Hite.
The temperature made playing conditions brutal, especially early in the second half. Redshirt senior goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme, who locked up her 10th clean sheet of the season, said the heat tired players out quickly.
“It definitely affects the game in the fact that you get tired really quickly. It drains your energy. It drains your water,” Prudhomme said. “But the key was to just keep hydrating throughout the game.”
Head coach Keidane McAlpine agreed with his keeper and praised the Women of Troy for a great team effort in a game with heavy personnel rotation.
“I think both teams got a little sloppy at times. I think you saw people fatigue a little quicker than normal,” McAlpine said. “So it was one of those days when we were using a lot of players, and having players come in and actually execute was very, very good for us.”
Officials helped the teams recover by calling two short water breaks during the game — one in each half.
USC and the Cougars went back and forth early, with neither side able to stake its claim on the match. But after a Trojan shot turned onto the post in the 23rd minute, Molen volleyed in the rebound to make the Trojan breakthrough. Washington State rallied after conceding, though, and the Women of Troy took their 1-0 lead into the half only thanks to two key saves from Prudhomme in one-on-one opportunities.
“Sammy Jo has been so good,” McAlpine said. “That’s what she’s been doing all year: making big saves look simple and making simple saves look real easy. She gives us confidence.”
Despite the praise, however, McAlpine was disappointed with USC’s sluggish first period.
“Washington State … jumped on us, and it took us a while to figure out what they were doing and deal with it, which was a little disappointing,” he said. “I didn’t think we matched their energy.”
The Women of Troy adjusted in the locker room, and they seized the game by the throat just a few minutes after the second-half restart. Pruitt turned her defender on the left flank and cut inside. After playing a one-two with redshirt junior Alex Anthony, the sophomore found herself with only the keeper to beat, and she dribbled around goalie Ella Dederick and buried her shot to double USC’s advantage.
Prudhomme said Pruitt’s goal was a turning point in the contest. From then on, the Women of Troy were in rhythm and dictated the tempo.
“It gave us a little more cushion, and I think it kind of discouraged [Washington State],” she said. “That helped us, because after that, we pretty much took control of the game.”
Indeed, aside from rattling the crossbar late, the Cougars were declawed for most of the final 45 minutes. Hite put the result beyond any doubt with seven minutes to play, rolling a pass from redshirt senior Katie Johnson past Dederick from point-blank range to make it 3-0.
USC has now won two straight games after suffering its first loss in over a month against Cal in early October, and the team remains just one game behind undefeated Pac-12 leader Colorado.
“We know any of these teams in our league can get a result on any day,” he said. “We’ve got to do our part and keep winning, and hopefully when it all shakes out, we’re sitting at the top by ourselves.”
Next up for USC is Washington, who visits McAlister Field on Sunday. The Women of Troy look to make it three wins on the trot against the Huskies.