Soccer dominates Oregon, moves to 8-2

Simone Jackson scored a brace while Helena Sampaio scored her fourth of the year.

Junior forward Kayla Colbert leads USC with four goals and 11 points this season. Two other Trojans are close behind, with ten points and four goals apiece. (Robert Westermann)

No. 10 USC women’s soccer defeated the Oregon Ducks on Thursday, increasing its win streak to five games.

The Trojans (8-2, 4-0 Pac-12) left no doubt in this one. In their final Pac-12 home opener, they controlled the pace, taking 23 shots with ten shots on goal to Oregon’s  six shots and two shots on goal. They put on a full frontal assault against a Ducks team that’s ranked 302nd in the NCAA in goals-against average and has allowed 27 goals in 12 games.

The Trojans scored their first goal in the 23rd minute with a penalty kick goal by junior forward Helena Sampaio, tying her for the team lead with four on the year. Later, in the 34th minute, junior forward Simone Jackson added a goal of her own to increase the Trojans’ lead. Jackson would score another goal in the 67th minute, her third ofn the season.

Jackson has had a nagging injury that’s led her to miss four games from Aug. 27 to Sept. 28.

“Honestly, I’m just so happy to be back and moving with this brace on my leg,” Jackson said while patting her left leg, enclosed in a brace stretching from her mid-thigh to her shin. “It’s just nice to be running around, scoring goals, having your teammates support you.”

Head Coach Jane Alukonis praised Jackson’s goals and said she’s a “handful for the opponent,” and the Trojans missed having her on the pitch in recent matches.

“Her first finish was a difficult one from a tough angle,” Alukonis said. “The other one came from hard work and just getting to the right place at the right time.”

Jackson walked through her point-of-view of her goals, and said she noticed the keeper was out of position on her first goal. If she shot it low, the goalie wouldn’t be able to drop fast enough to stop the ball in time.

“The second goal, my teammate Izzy [Kimberly] got a no-look pass to me, so I really owe it all to her,” Jackson said. “She just trusted me that I was going to be there.; I showed up, I ran it down and I blasted it to the back of the net.”

Oregon was not nearly as aggressive as USC, only taking six shots on the day with sophomore goalkeeper Hannah Dickinson saving one of only two shots on goal that Oregon took. Junior goalkeeper Bella Grust guarded the net for the final 17 minutes of the game and saved Oregon’s second shot on goal of the day.

“Honestly, we held it down,” Jackson said of the Trojans’ defensive performance. “One shot on goal —, that’s very good. Especially because we rotate and everyone’s strong and there’s no slip-ups and we’re very disciplined, so I appreciate our defense for that.”

USC played many substitutes throughout the game. Not a single Trojan played the full 90 minutes, and Alukonis said the team tried to manage minutes to prepare for games beyond Oregon, a particularly weak opponent on the Trojans’ schedule. Despite that, Alukonis said her team stresses the importance of not taking games off.

“We say we have to take these games the most serious,” Alukonis said. “I would say the game plan is that we had to stay disciplined, we had to make sure we didn’t take our foot of the gas… Any team can win on any given day… so we know we have to come out and be super disciplined.”

USC has another weak opponent coming up on the schedule, with Oregon State (3-4-4, 0-2-1) set to visit McAlister Field in the next few days, but Alukonis said the team always tries to stick to its gameplan regardless of its opponent’s strength.

“Always dominate possessions, be brave on the ball,” said Alukonis. “Switch the point and try to get into the most dangerous goal-scoring areas with as few defenders in between.”

Jackson said the team is taking this season one game at a time, and focusing on what’s in front.

“We’re going to keep with the same energy that we started with and finish with a lot of focus and I think that’s really big for this team,” Jackson said. “We have lots of talent, so it’s just that consistency and not checking out. We’ve got to stay focused.”

Looking to win its sixth straight game, USC will welcome the Oregon State Beavers to McAlister Field Sunday at noon.

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