No. 5 USC aims to extend win streak vs Washington State

Sophomore forward Katie Roditis challenges for the ball with an opposing player.
Sophomore forward Katie Roditis has played eight games for the Trojans this season, tallying 4 assists in 189 minutes of play. (Polina Past | Daily Trojan)

No. 5 USC continues conference play as it faces third-place Pac-12 team Washington State, who has only lost once this season with a 4-1-1 record. The Trojans look to expand on their program record 11-game win streak as they start the second half of league fixtures atop of the standings. 

Entering its seventh game of Pac-12 play, USC has converted 24 goals, only allowed 5 goals in six games and holds a 6-0 conference record. At this point last year, the Trojans only scored and allowed 6 goals respectively while bearing a 2-3 record amid a tumultuous run.

USC captured its historical 11th consecutive win last Thursday in a gritty bout against Oregon. The Trojans’ previous unbeaten streak occurred in 2016 en route to their most recent NCAA title, when they maintained a 10-game winning streak at the beginning of the season. 

“We’re not thinking about the games that have already been won,” said Head Coach Keidane McAlpine in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “We’re only thinking about the one that is right in front of us. Washington State is an extremely good team, especially at home … they are a big challenge ahead of us.”

Despite the 3-1 defeat, Oregon created obstacles for the Trojans’ defense, as they created 12 shot attempts in the second half compared to USC’s six. Senior goalkeeper Anna Smith pitched in six pivotal saves in the second half to prevent further scoring from Oregon’s offense. Junior midfielder Croix Bethune’s goal from the penalty spot and freshman Simone Jackson’s late heroics in the second half cemented the victory for USC. 

“I think the [Oregon] game was a really good game to experience,” McAlpine said. “Oregon changed tactics in the game … However, we were still resilient enough to make enough plays on both ends of the field to get the result, and I think it prepares us for what teams are tactically going to try to do to us. I thought the game was extremely important, extremely necessary.” 

Washington State will return to its home field after a double overtime 2-2 draw against Arizona State last Friday despite leading the match 2-0 in the first half. The Cougars took their sole conference loss at home to Stanford Oct. 7 despite only created 1 less shot compared to Stanford. Washington State has notched 9 goals in conference play so far and has only allowed 3 goals, culminating in four clean sheets in six Pac-12 matches. 

“I think [Washington State is] going to play to their strengths,” McAlpine said. “We are going to have to play a complete game from end to end in order to keep things under control and we are going to have to take moments to settle the game.” 

The Trojans sit at the top of the Pac-12 standings with 18 points, ahead of crosstown rival UCLA who sits in second place with 14 points, followed by Washington State and Stanford who are tied with 13 points. USC is the only team left without a loss or draw in Pac-12 play. 

USC will face off against Washington State Thursday at 7 p.m. in Pullman, Wash.