Women’s soccer splits opening series

first_imgBrian Ji | Daily TrojanThe USC women’s soccer team opened its 2015 campaign in Albuquerque at the New Mexico Lobos Invitational, beating Texas Tech on Friday before falling to Florida State on Sunday.The Women of Troy earned a 1-0 victory over Texas Tech, a team ranked in the preseason top 15. The Trojans and Red Raiders had actually never met on the pitch before, but the inaugural game did not disappoint.Opening day can sometimes lead to more questions than answers, but that was not the case for the Women of Troy in Albuquerque.It all started with the last line of defense. Goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme, a transfer from Oregon State, made four saves on the evening. Prudhomme was a standout with the Beavers before making her way to Troy. After sitting out a mandatory redshirt year, she turned some heads in her USC debut.Head coach Keidane McAlpine lauded Prudhomme, explaining that she holds herself accountable at all times and thus commands the respect of her teammates.“Sammy Jo is a very confident goalkeeper, but she studies her craft really well,” McAlpine said. “She holds herself to a super high standard in every aspect of the position.”Prudhomme’s clean sheet was impressive, but she was certainly aided by a strong performance from the back line.“Defending is a mindset,” McAlpine said.Defending is also something that the Women of Troy constantly refine in practice and in games as they are always working to improve their communication and unity. McAlpine emphasizes total team defending, from the forwards to the goalkeeper.The back line itself is a unit, introducing a new piece since last season.Freshman Ally Prisock made her debut for the Trojans against Texas Tech, and she looks to be an integral part of the defense over the next four years.Prisock and company allowed just six shots to get through on Friday, four of which found their target. Additionally, USC only allowed one corner kick all game. Though the Trojans dominated in the “shots on goal” category, it is also important to focus on the fact that the Red Raiders managed just one corner kick. Corner kicks, like set pieces in general, are incredibly dangerous. The Trojans, meanwhile, threatened Texas Tech with a whopping nine corners.Prisock may have been the only freshman in the starting nine, but it was another newbie whose name appeared on the score sheet.Hailey Hite, an Orange County product, entered the fold in the second half with just 26 minutes to play. It is safe to say that she will never forget her short but sweet USC debut. Hite beat Texas Tech goalkeeper Lauren Watson from some 12 yards out with just seven minutes remaining in regulation, giving the Trojans the go-ahead goal and the win.Senior forward Jamie Fink, a veteran leader who was also an impact freshman once upon a time, praised the play of USC’s youngsters.“It’s amazing to have freshmen like that step up and show that you don’t have to be an upperclassman to do these types of things,” Fink said.Riding an emotional high after downing the Red Raiders, the Trojans faced off against the top-ranked team in the land, the Florida State Seminoles. There are not many tests quite like playing the defending national champions in the second game of the season.The Women of Troy gave the ‘Noles all they could handle, but in the end FSU nicked a late goal and claimed the victory. A 1-0 defeat against Florida State is certainly not an egregious offense, and maybe the Women of Troy will get another shot at the reigning national champs in the NCAA Tournament.Teams can learn from early season losses like the one against FSU and, unlike college football, one loss does not have the potential to derail a season.Quite frankly, the Women of Troy have a lot to be proud of after their trip to the desert. The squad defeated a strong Texas Tech team before just losing to the 2014 national champs.McAlpine learned that he has some precocious freshmen in Prisock and Hite, and he also found that his defense could actually come back bigger, stronger and angrier than it was a year ago.“I think our defense is super disciplined this year,” Fink said.With strong defending leading to equally impressive attacking play, the Women of Troy look poised to have a terrific season.“I think this was a major confidence booster,” Fink said, referring to a strong showing this weekend. “It was all very positive.”McAlpine echoed these sentiments and said he felt good about his team’s performance.“I feel like our team really met the challenge on the weekend,” he said.last_img

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