USC wins in comeback against Stanford

No. 10 Women’s soccer secured a comeback victory over No. 9 Stanford Sunday in front of fans at Soni McAlister Field. Despite entering halftime with a 2-0 deficit, goal contributions from leading season goalscorer, junior midfielder Croix Bethune, and freshman forward Simone Jackson led the Trojans to a victory for their last home game of the conference season. 

In the 32nd minute, USC conceded the first goal when a deflection from senior defender Kaylin Martin granted Stanford a lead through an own goal. 

Stanford subsequently doubled its lead when junior midfielder Katie Duong sent a lob pass from a free kick to the penalty box, which eventually gave room to senior defender Naomi Girma who scored eight seconds before halftime. Stanford outshot USC 8-2 in the first half. 

“Our overall energy in the game wasn’t high enough in the first half which allowed [Stanford] a lot of possession and a lot of opportunities to shoot on goal,” said Head Coach Keidane McAlpine in a postgame interview. “We had to change the energy at halftime.”

The Trojans promptly responded to the deficit eight minutes into the second half when Jackson cut into the middle of the box and scored her fourth goal of the Pac-12 season. 

USC tied the match two minutes later when senior midfielder Savannah DeMelo provided a ground pass across the edge of the penalty box where Jackson allowed the ball to pass between her feet to allow Bethune to score the equalizer. The second half mirrored the first as USC outshot Stanford 8-2 en route to their equalizer. After 90 minutes, the score remained level as the game headed into overtime.

Three minutes into the first overtime period, DeMelo lobbed a pass to Bethune, who controlled possession in the penalty box, before rounding Stanford’s goalkeeper and slotting the winner into the empty net. 

Jackson received her third straight start as a replacement for injured senior forward Penelope Hocking. The freshman provided a goal and an assist en route to the Trojans’ comeback victory over Stanford. 

“I thought [Jackson] did a great job in the first half, especially against Washington, and she has carried that confidence forward,” McAlpine said. “With [Hocking] out, she has given us another threat out there to kind of take on and get after people.” 

Bethune’s heroics added to her prolific goal contribution tally this season, providing 8 goals and 6 assists in 10 Pac-12 matches. The midfielder, who plays as a forward under McAlpine’s system, scored five goals in her last three matches. 

“Croix was extremely important, especially in that second half,” McAlpine said. “She was a little frustrated in the first half, but I thought in the second half her energy changed [and the] team’s energy changed.”

USC’s comeback victory over Stanford continued the Trojans’ prolific run in the Pac-12 as they remain unbeaten in Pac-12 play with an 8-0-2 record. Following its efforts Sunday, USC have officially won all of its home games in the Pac-12. 

“This was another massive game for us,” McAlpine said. “Today’s huge, and it’s massive that we can get this kind of pressure against us and still come out on the other side.”

The Trojans’ victory sets stage for their final match of the Pac-12 season as they face crosstown rivals No. 5 UCLA in their conference title match that, in a draw or a win, would clinch the title for USC. The two teams will face off at 7 p.m. Friday at Wallis Annenberg Stadium.