USC finding its rhythm after opening season with losses

Redshirt senior midfielder Savannah DeMelo attempts to kick the soccer ball with a defender nearby.
Redshirt senior midfielder Savannah DeMelo scored the first goal in USC’s win against Utah Valley Saturday. (Amanda Chou | Daily Trojan)

Women’s soccer lost their second straight game Thursday. BYU defeated the Trojans 2-1 in a dominant performance that left little room for USC to make a comeback.

Following their defeat, the Trojans finally found their way into the win column against Utah Valley Saturday. In a 4-2 victory, the Trojans held the lead for the majority of the game. Junior midfielder Croix Bethune, redshirt senior midfielder Savannah DeMelo, freshman midfielder Aaliyah Farmer and freshman forward Simone Jackson all scored in USC’s first victory of the season.  

Against BYU, the Trojans fell behind early in the 13th minute. Behind the play of sophomore forward Brecken Mozingo, who tallied a goal and an assist in the game. Mozingo’s left-footed shot lasered into the back of the net before USC senior goalkeeper Anna Smith could save it. 

BYU secured a 2-0 halftime lead by way of sophomore forward Bella Folino’s header off of a cross from Mozingo.

Senior midfielder Mikayla Colohan and freshman midfielder Olivia Smith contributed on defense for a BYU team that allowed eight shots for the Trojans in the first half. 

The game could have gotten even more out of hand in the 33rd minute, when a handball call resulted in a penalty kick for BYU, which was later saved by Smith. Despite allowing a pair of goals, Smith ended the game with five saves. 

USC appeared to have potentially turned things around early in the second half, with several more on-target shots. However, BYU’s defense and goalkeeping continued to pull through for the Cougars. With speed, aggression and precision, the BYU backline effectively countered each USC possession. 

In the 84th minute, BYU was penalized for a handball in their own penalty box, resulting in a penalty kick for Bethune. 

Bethune, who spent her freshman season recovering from an ACL injury, beat the keeper and put USC on the board. In fact, Bethune’s late-game score was the first of the season for USC, whose offense has struggled in each of its games. 

Toward the end of the game, redshirt senior forward Jada Talley had multiple shots on target, including one in the 87th minute that would have completed a comeback for the Trojans. 

The loss dropped USC’s record to 0-2-0, with both games against non-Power 5 conference teams. With other Pac-12 teams such as No. 4 UCLA and No. 13 Stanford, the Trojans could be in for a long season if they are unable to solve their offensive and defensive woes. 

USC has not started a season 0-2-0 since 2011, when they went 7-13-0. While both No. 24 BYU and No. 8 Pepperdine are Top 25 teams in the country, USC will continue to face tough opponents. With games against No. 18 Michigan and Western Michigan on the horizon, the Trojans should have plenty of opportunities to fine-tune their offense before the Pac-12 schedule begins. 

USC’s next game is Sept. 4 at 4:00 p.m. at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich.