Soccer mounts 10 goals against Oregon teams

Senior forward Leah Pruitt has scored 10 goals in 2018, matching her total goal tally in 2016 and 2017 combined. (Emily Smith | Daily Trojan)

The USC women’s soccer team finished the season perfect at home, tallying a combined 10 goals against Oregon State on Thursday and Oregon on Sunday.

The Trojans carried their strengths of Thursday’s 5-0 victory over Oregon State into their performance against Oregon on Sunday to notch another 5-0 win in one of the team’s best performances of the season so far, which saw freshman forward Penelope Hocking posted her first hat trick.

The scoring started early as Hocking recorded the first goal from a chip five minutes into the game. She followed that up with another goal 15 minutes later. Just one minute later, redshirt sophomore midfielder Savannah DeMelo netted a goal with a weak-footed volley from the top of the box. The game appeared to be locked up after the Trojans were up 3-0, 22 minutes into the game.

The second half was much like the first. Hocking claimed her hat trick early on in the second half by scoring on a cross from redshirt junior forward Natalie Jacobs. The play started as DeMelo found Jacobs making a run out wide and connected a beautifully weighted ball to Jacobs, who later kept her composure to find Hocking on the end of the cross. Redshirt sophomore forward Samantha Bruder put the game to bed as she scored the fifth goal of the game off a pass by sophomore Arlie Jones.

“I really wanted the hat trick, and I saw the keeper and I saw that show was coming near post, so I knew the only way that I was going to score was to get it over her head,” Hocking said. “It’s nice that not only [head] coach [Keidane] McAlpine trusts me, but also everyone on the team trusts me too that I can put the ball in the back of the net. That helps a lot, that faith and motivation to just do good for my team, it just makes everything better.”

In most games this season, Hocking has had to come off the bench as opposed to starting, but her performance lately made McAlpine give her the nod, and she did not disappoint. Despite her role, Hocking leads the team in goals this season, with 12 after the hat trick.

“[Hocking] had such a good performance on Thursday, you could tell that she’s getting into form,” McAlpine said. “But more importantly, you can tell that our front players are starting to click and they are finding each other and looking for each other better. The movement into the gaps behind, even though they are small, they are finding them quicker and sharper which is putting them in good places, so nothing but quality touches for them today.”

On Thursday afternoon, the Women of Troy took on Oregon State. Going into the game, the No. 2-ranked Trojans were the favorites as the Beavers had only won two games all season. The game ended up being as lopsided as it was on paper — a 5-0 rout for USC.

The scoring started early as senior forward Leah Pruitt put one past the keeper off an assist from sophomore forward Tara McKeown. Just eight minutes later, the roles reversed as McKeown got her name on the scoresheet via an assist by Pruitt. At halftime, the Trojans led 2-0.

Just starting the second half, Hocking scored her first goal of the day, this time assisted by DeMelo. Three minutes later, Pruitt scored a rocket from 25 yards out from the goal to make the game 4-0 after 49 minutes of play. Hocking closed the game and scored her second on the day to take the scoreline to 5-0 in favor of the Trojans with 30 minutes left in the game.

“I thought it was a very good performance,” McAlpine said. “The challenge to them today was to put more shots on frame, to give us better chances to score goals. And today, we still got our 20 shots, but we put more on frame which equals more goals, which I thought was fantastic.”

The Trojans now sit with a 14-1-1 overall record for the season with three games left. First, the Trojans will travel to face Colorado squad on Thursday for a 2 p.m. kickoff. Following that, the Women of Troy will head to Salt Lake City to play Utah on Sunday at 11 a.m.