Women’s soccer cruises past another opponent

Sophomore midfielder and Notre Dame transfer Alea Hyatt scored her first goal in Cardinal and Gold against LBSU. (Ling Luo | Daily Trojan)

The Women of Troy continued their red-hot start to the season after defeating Long Beach State  3-0 on Senior Day on Friday.

The Trojans looked comfortable at the start of the game, controlling the ball in the midfield. Long Beach State started the game with three midfielders against the Trojans’ four, which proved to be too much for the 49ers. Long Beach State could not create any opportunities as they lacked any kind of meaningful possession.

On the other end of the field, sophomore midfielder Alea Hyatt scored her first goal of the season. She got the ball on the right side of Long Beach State’s box and had a shot deflected, but she quickly recovered the ball again and beat the keeper to get the Trojans on the board.

The second half saw senior forward Leah Pruitt score twice. The first came from a great overall team play. Freshman forward Penelope Hocking split two defenders with a pass to Pruitt who calmly put it away. Hocking’s pass was the kind of movement head coach Keidane McAlpine has been looking for this season, as it is the best way to break open a defense and create great opportunities to score goals from good positions.

“I think [Hocking] is really great off the bench because she comes in, and she’s like a little fireplug up top and I love playing with her, and I think we play really well together and I’m excited when she comes in on the field,” Pruitt said after the game.

Pruitt appeared upset before scoring her second goal of the game after being fouled constantly by Long Beach State senior defender Alyssa Alvarez and both players appeared to be angry with each other. However, her frustration did not get in the way of her scoring. Her next goal came from a cross from freshman fullback Ashley Soto, who delivered the ball into the box from the right side and perfectly found Pruitt’s head to put the game to bed in the 89th minute of the game.

“She was really feisty, but I kind of like when they get feisty because I can get feisty back,” Pruitt said after the game. “It felt really good to help my team with those goals. I think that [the second goal] was like a team goal because we worked all the way from the backline, getting it up and getting the cross so it was good.”

Overall, the Trojans performed much better in this game. They moved the ball much better and created more dangerous opportunities from good positions than they did against Missouri and San Diego last weekend.

“I thought the energy that we played with was much better than last weekend,” McAlpine said. “We started the game with a much better rhythm, we were able to maintain it for a much longer period of time. I think the pressure turned into not giving up corners and not giving up shots. That’s what we want to be about. We created a lot of chances, but probably still should be better in the final third. All in all, I think it was a good performance on a really special day.”

As the Trojans continue their winning streak, there seems to be more optimism about their prospect of winning another national championship. Senior defender Ally Prisock was a vital part of the team that won in 2016 but she said the two teams are different.

“We had different types of players on our team,” Prisock said. “I’d say in 2016 we were more athletic a little bit. We had an older team in 2016. Now we’re younger. But definitely we are still competitive and we still have the same drive, and I think we can get back to where we were.”

The one setback this weekend that junior fullback Ashleigh Plumptre’s absence due to an injury, so sophomore midfielder Tara McKeown had to play fullback. However, McKeown played that position all of last year for USC and for the U-20 USA National Team, so she did a good job of filling in that role. Plumptre’s injury is not believed to be too serious.

USC takes on its first Pac-12 rival of the season Saturday when it faces Washington at home at noon.