Women’s soccer wins on penalty kicks

Mohammad Alsubaie | Daily Trojan

The No. 6 USC women’s soccer team began its two-game Arizona road trip in Tucson facing Arizona on Thursday. Despite a slow start, the Trojans pulled out the 1-0 victory in a double overtime thriller headlined by a penalty kick goal from senior forward Alex Anthony.

Although the Wildcats are unranked, they were hot off a huge upset victory against No. 11 Cal. Coming into the game, Arizona knew that a win against the Trojans would most likely land them a spot in the top 25. On the other side, the Women of Troy entered the desert state coming off a fantastic weekend with two wins against a pair of Oregon teams last weekend.

Both USC and Arizona are notorious for playing a fast-paced offense while maintaining a strong back line which made for a heart-stopping contest. The Wildcats took the momentum early in the game with a pair of scoring opportunities deep into the USC zone but were rejected on both attempts.

The Trojans stole the momentum halfway through the first half with two scoring opportunities of their own. In the 32nd minute, junior forward Leah Pruitt was left alone inside the the goal area where she rifled a point-blank shot toward the Wildcats’ net but was denied by junior goalkeeper Lainey Burdett. Just a minute later, the Women of Troy threatened to score again with senior midfielder Sydney Sladek alone on the right side inside the 18-yard box, but the aggressive Arizona defense was there to stop the attempt.

Despite the high volume of scoring opportunities for both sides, the first half of the match was scoreless. At halftime, head coach Keidane McAlpine commented on his team’s scoring opportunities.

“We’ve created half-chances in and around the box, maybe have a little more composure with the passes that we are making into those plays,” McAlpine said. “But I like where we are. I think we are in a decent rhythm and we are creating quite a few chances.”

Early into the second half USC caught a break with a clutch diving save from redshirt freshman goalkeeper Kaylie Collins. The Women of Troy then responded with a close chance of their own in the 58th minute. On a crossbody shot from within the box, Sladek pounded the ball off the crossbar, but the ball went over the back of the net and the Wildcats regained control with the goal kick.

The remainder of the second half was a back-and-forth battle between the Trojans and Wildcats. However, neither squad was able to able to find the back of the net and the game headed to overtime. At the end of the regulation, the Women of Troy had outshot Arizona 12-3, four of which were on frame.

The Wildcats wasted no time advancing into the Trojans’ zone. In the 92nd minute, senior midfielder Cali Crisler gave the Wildcats their first scoring opportunity of overtime with a booming left foot just below the USC crossbar. However, Collins was able to tip the ball just over the top of the goal with a magnificent diving save.

The Women of Troy quickly bounced back and worked inside the Arizona defensive zone taking several shots. In the 99th minute, a tackle from behind by junior midfielder Kennedy Kieneker put Anthony in a game-defining penalty kick situation. With the game on the line, Anthony sailed the ball over the top of the net, and the contest would be extended to a second overtime.

In the 109th minute, the Trojans were fouled again within the Arizona 18-yard box and Anthony was granted her second overtime penalty kick. This time, Anthony drilled the ball into the back of the net to close off the game and grant the Trojans their third Pac-12 win over a very competitive Arizona team.

With the overtime victory, freshman goalkeeper Kaylie Collins tallied her fifth shutout of the season and the Women of Troy improved their overall record to 9-1-1. They will now journey 100 miles north for their Sunday matchup against Arizona State.