Women’s soccer notches two Pac-12 victories

Graduate midfielder Natalie Jacobs wards off a defender. Jacobs set up freshman defender Kaylin Martin for the game-winning goal against Arizona State Thursday, bringing her to four assists on the season. (Ling Luo | Daily Trojan)

No. 2 USC women’s soccer has returned to its winning ways after a successful weekend in Arizona, where it defeated Arizona State 2-1 and Arizona 1-0. The Trojans improved to 9-1-1 overall and 2-1-0 in Pac-12 play. 

USC’s first game against ASU Thursday was a thriller that went down to the final whistle.

The Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute as freshman midfielder Jaelyn Eisenhart’s corner kick bounced off an ASU defender and into the net. It was the first own goal in favor of USC this season.

The Trojans held the lead until the 62nd minute, when ASU sophomore midfielder Marleen Schimmer found the back of the net on a right-footed strike. Schimmer was a player that the Trojans looked to contain, but the talented midfielder was able to score despite the defensive attention.

ASU continued to cause problems for the Trojans throughout the second half, making it difficult for USC to find chances offensively. USC head coach Keidane McAlpine said the Sun Devils did not get discouraged after falling behind early.

“They were very disciplined in their tactics,” McAlpine told USC Athletics. “Even when we got that early goal, they stayed with it and found a way to get that goal.” 

As the clock wound down, it seemed the match was destined for overtime. Early in the 90th minute, however, a cross from redshirt senior midfielder Natalie Jacobs found the head of redshirt freshman defender Kaylin Martin, and the Trojans took a 2-1 lead with 38 seconds to play. It was Martin’s first goal of the season, and she became the eighth Trojan to score in 2019.

USC could not claim its victory yet, though, as ASU earned a penalty kick with a mere 21 seconds to play. Sophomore forward Nicole Douglas stepped up for the Sun Devils and fired a shot toward the right side of the goal, but sophomore goalie Anna Smith came up with the game-winning save, and the Trojans escaped Tempe with a 2-1 victory.

McAlpine was pleased with the result of the game but knew his squad could improve in a few areas before facing Arizona Sunday. 

“Huge win on the road — we’ve got some things to fix, but we’ll take it and we’ll move forward,” McAlpine said.

The Trojans had to battle not only the Wildcats but also the heat Sunday afternoon, as the thermometer read 90 degrees at kickoff.

Martin’s first goal against Arizona State Thursday was not her only first of the weekend. In the 38th minute, she picked up her first assist on a through ball to junior forward Tara McKeown. McKeown leads the Trojans with 9 goals on the season.

This time, the opening goal would be all USC needed as its defense buckled down and secured its third shutout of the season. It was also the first time Arizona has been held scoreless at home so far this season.

McAlpine said he was proud of the effort his team put forth despite the heat.

“This was a fantastic win for us,” McAlpine said. “Very difficult conditions, a great team across from us that knows how to compete [and] how to fight. We were able to defend really well and fight through when we needed to.” 

USC is now above .500 in Pac-12 play with a record of 2-1. The Trojans will have a few days off before facing Utah 3 p.m. Thursday at McAlister Field.