Following its second conference defeat against Cal, No. 7 USC women’s soccer bounced back with a decisive 3-0 win over No. 19 Washington State Thursday before losing momentum in a 2-0 loss to Washington Sunday.
The Trojans dominated the Cougars offensively, putting up 17 shots, nine of which were on goal. Once again, it was forwards junior Tara McKeown and sophomore Penelope Hocking who were able to find the back of the net.
McKeown netted 2 goals in the first half to achieve her fourth brace of the season. Her first goal came less than five minutes into the game, and she followed with another less than 15 minutes later. Hocking scored the lone goal of the second half off a long assist from redshirt junior forward Samantha Bruder to ice the game for the Trojans.
The WSU game was also redshirt junior goalkeeper Kaylie Collins’ first start since August. Collins made three saves and notched her third shutout on the year in only five games.
Although beating WSU was an important victory, USC was unable to replicate its performance against the Cougars’ in-state neighbors. The Trojans’ 2-0 defeat marked their third Pac-12 loss and second home defeat of the season.
Washington scored off a long assist that left Collins in a tough one-on-one situation as well as a long free kick that soared out of Collins’ reach and hit the upper left corner.
Washington is by no means a weak team. The Huskies have beaten a number of ranked opponents — including Cal, Arizona and TCU — and are likely to be ranked after their win over the Trojans. They have also competed in close games against powerhouses like UNC and UCLA.
Washington’s experience against stronger opponents appeared to pay off, as the Trojans’ offense was unable to find the back of the net.
“I thought we were very disconnected from the opening whistle,” head coach Keidane McAlpine said. “I give a lot of credit to the Huskies. They did what they planned to do. We didn’t execute well … and they capitalized [on that].”
The Washington defense shut out the Trojans and turned defense into offense for their 2 goals on the day. Although USC put up 13 shots compared to six for Washington, the Huskies’ senior goalie Siena Ruelas remained strong in the net, saving all nine shots on goal. Meanwhile, Collins only posted one save.
“Washington did a much better job organizationally with their defending and their back line than did Washington State,” McAlpine said. “I also thought we didn’t catch the breaks … with every blocked shot, with every miss, they gained energy and we lost it, and so I thought that was a big part of the problem today.”
This loss will be particularly costly for the Trojans going forward, as USC and Washington were tied for second in the conference rankings entering the game. Now sitting at 5-3 in the conference, the Trojans can afford no more mistakes.
“Every team in our conference is a tough opponent,” McAlpine said. “If you show up and you don’t bring the proper energy and intensity to the game, then you can get beat.”
USC will travel north to face both Oregon and Oregon State this weekend before returning to Los Angeles for its final regular season game against crosstown rival UCLA.