After a dominant home stand this past weekend — comfortably defeating Santa Clara and Iowa State — the No. 12 women’s soccer team goes back on the road, looking to bolster its record against Loyola Marymount and San Diego.
Loyola Marymount (4-2-2) also played a weekend home stand this past week, hosting UC Irvine and Long Beach State, and taking 4 points from those two matches. The Lions, just like Santa Clara last week, have experience playing ranked Pac-12 opposition, besting No. 25 Utah 1-0 at home.
The Lions last played on Sunday against Long Beach State, edging out a 2-0 victory. Even though Loyola Marymount was outshot in this game, the Lions’ defense was stout throughout the entirety of the match, only allowing nine shots, with incredibly only one allowed in the second half.
The Lions are a second-half team this year, with seven of their 10 goals scored coming in the last 45 minutes of the game. Due to the Lions’ solid defense and tendency for second-half surges, the Trojans must continue to capitalize on their opportunities in and around the penalty box and stay focused throughout the full 90 minutes if they want to continue the win streak.
This mentality was shared by junior forward Leah Pruitt, who said the team needs to “keep going out strong, hard [and] getting goals early” in order to be successful this weekend.
Friday’s game is a rematch from last year, when the Trojans comfortably beat the Lions 2-0 at home. However, it will not be so straightforward this time, as Loyola Marymount have three players with multiple goals this season, making it even more important for the Trojans’ back line to defend as a unit to successfully thwart a multi-pronged Lions attack. The Trojans are on the right track in this regard, only allowing one goal over the past two games, keeping a shutout against Iowa State. This defensive astuteness will have to be at peak performance if this impressive defensive record is to continue.
San Diego (1-5-0) should be an easy test for the Trojans on Sunday. Their last game was also against Long Beach State last Friday, but the Toreros were on the wrong side of a 3-0 result. They were only able to muster three shots (one on goal) the entire game, while conceding 13 shots. This lack of defensive solidity at the back should be welcome news for the Trojans, who recently have had no problem getting shots off, bagging 21 against Iowa State. The Trojans’ front line needs to continue to apply pressure to the back lines of their opponents, as it will be likely that scoring opportunities will arise due to a shaky Torero defense.
The Trojans will need to take advantage of a lackluster San Diego team that has only scored 4 goals in six games this season, while at the same time allowing 11 to hit the back of the net. The Toreros are not a second-half team, with all 4 of their goals this season coming in the first half of play. They have been outshot 90-34 this season while also having to make more than twice the number of saves as their opponents. While this picture might make it seem like it will be a walk in the park for the Women of Troy on Sunday, San Diego is still a team that can make a good game with elite-level competition, with their only loss against ranked opposition coming from No. 22 Texas A&M in August.
As long as the Trojans remain focused in their mission to take six points from their two road games this weekend and continue to improve on their finishing in the final third, they will return home with an impressive four-game win streak ready to start Pac-12 play next weekend.