USC scores seven versus Utah to remain atop Pac-12

Sophomore forward Katie Roditis shields the ball from a defender.
The Trojans defeated the Utes by their largest margin of victory this season in Pac-12 play. (Polina Past | Daily Trojan)

Women’s soccer registered its tenth win in a row Sunday in a comfortable 7-0 victory over Utah, matching USC’s program record for consecutive victories. The bout maintained USC’s position at the top of the Pac-12 conference standings, keeping the Trojans three points in front of second-place Washington State and third-place Stanford. 

Utah proved a competitive opponent in the opening 30 minutes, as the match remained scoreless despite a few attempts from the Trojans. In the 37th minute, freshman forward Simone Jackson provided a through pass for sophomore defender Zoe Burns, who converted her first goal of the season and second of her USC career. 

Nearly six minutes later, Jackson lobbed a cross to freshman midfielder Helena Sampaio, who headed the ball in the net, scoring the first collegiate goal of her career. Jackson provided her second assist of the game and proved a difference maker off the bench. 

“I thought Simone [Jackson] was great,” said Head Coach Keidane McAlpine in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “She got the chance to see what the team was doing and buy in to make the corrections we wanted to make. When she came in she executed really well playing out of the flank.”

USC continued running rampant after halftime, scoring the first of five second-half goals in the 57th minute, when junior midfielder Croix Bethune sprinted past a few Utah players before sending a through pass to redshirt senior midfielder Savannah DeMelo, who scored her third of the season. Two minutes later, Bethune received a pass from Burns in the penalty box before turning and passing to junior forward Hannah White for the fourth goal of the match as White went around a defender and converted her third of the season. 

In the 62nd minute, sophomore midfielder Jaelyn Eisenhart raced across the left flank and passed to senior forward Penelope Hocking for the fifth and Hocking’s 50th goal of her collegiate career, adding on to her newly-set scoring record at USC. 

Following a Utah own-goal in the 83rd minute, freshman defender Izzy Kimberly collected a failed clearance in the 87th minute to score the seventh in the victory. The match’s scoreline marks the highest-scoring game in USC’s Pac-12 season so far. 

Despite the scoreline, Utah’s strategy of playing from the backline proved to be an obstacle to USC in the opening minutes, with the Trojans eventually finding their first goal in the 37th minute. 

“I thought the carry over from [Thursday’s Colorado game], defensively from the front group, was fantastic,” McAlpine said. “And that commitment from that front group to defend and defend for the group makes all the difference in making the game predictable for that back core group of players.”

The result was Utah’s biggest loss of the season since a 3-0 loss at Stanford.

“The most important part of that scoreline is the 0,” McAlpine said. “That’s the one we really love to see [and] want to have every time we step out on the park. But to get this many people on the scoreboard … only makes the team better. The energy of this team is good.”

USC will hit the road and face Oregon, who is 3-1-1 in conference play and fifth in Pac-12 standings. Kickoff will be at 4 p.m. Thursday.