The women’s soccer team continued its red-hot start to the season with resounding victories against Cal Poly and Pepperdine over the weekend, improving its record to 3-0.
The Women of Troy claimed their second victory of the season on Friday as they defeated Cal Poly 6-1. While the performance was far from perfect, the Trojans showed many glimpses of why they are one of the best teams in the country.
“I like the way we started the game, I liked the intensity, I liked the way our forwards finished in the first half,” head coach Keidane McAlpine said after Friday’s win. “I wanted a little bit more out of the second half, but it’s hard to sustain that mentally. My expectations are greater, but overall a great day. [I] got to see a lot of players play, so I thought for the most part it was good.”
The scoring frenzy started with senior forward Leah Pruitt, who played one of her best games for the Trojans to date. She scored 2 goals within the first 10 minutes of the game and assisted on one later in the game. Pruitt looked phenomenal on the ball, dribbling past the goalie for both her goals, showing composure on the ball and magnificent touch. While the Trojans have many high caliber players on the team, Pruitt’s performances will be key this season if they look to make it far in the NCAA tournament.
“I think it was really awesome how we came out and scored a lot of goals early,” Pruitt said. “I try to stay composed when I’m close to the goal and I saw the goalie coming out and it worked both times.”
Redshirt junior forward Natalie Jacobs also claimed a goal from the penalty spot to make it 3-0 within 10 minutes. The remaining goals came from sophomore midfielder Tara McKeown, junior right-back Ashleigh Plumptre and freshman striker Penelope Hocking.
Although she didn’t claim a goal against Cal Poly, redshirt sophomore Savannah DeMelo also contributed to the win. Most of the midfield play went through DeMelo, who had a strong touch in her game against the Mustangs.
The Women of Troy carried their momentum into Sunday by routing Pepperdine 5-0. This was quite an impressive feat for the Trojans as the Waves had not allow a goal at home in over 900 minutes of play dating back to last season.
After the first half, the game seemed close as the Trojans were only leading 1-0, courtesy of a goal from DeMelo following a great linkage of play, including a brilliant cross into the box by McKeown and a good pass from Plumptre to allow DeMelo to simply tap it into the bottom corner of the goal.
The goals just seemed to flow in the second half as DeMelo scored another goal from the penalty spot following a foul on Jacobs that led to her exit from the game. Additionally, freshman forward Penelope Hocking showed great composure as she put another one past the goalie to make the score 3-0. Hocking has looked impressive coming off the bench in her last two games for the Trojans. McKeown got in on the scoring party as she put away the fourth goal for the Trojans after beating two defenders on the dribble and putting away a hard, low shot. The Women of Troy were gifted their 5th goal after a Waves’ defender headed the ball into her own net to give the Trojans a 5-0 lead and put the game out of reach.
The Women of Troy looked impressive this weekend and certainly look like a top team after having scored 11 goals in two games. They haven’t scored more than 4 goals in a game since 2014 when the Trojans put 9 goals past Arkansas Pine-Bluff. Now, the Trojans have scored 5 or more in two consecutive games, and both against defensively sound teams. While in years past the Trojans’ strong suit has been defense, this season they look to have found an offensive groove.
The Trojans will travel to No. 5 Florida State in their next game on Friday which will quickly be followed by a trip to No. 6 Florida on Sunday — two high-profile matchups that will test the team.