Over the last six years, the USC women’s soccer team has had a game shown on television exactly six times. Two of those games came during the Women of Troy’s run to a national championship in 2007, and two more came against high-powered UCLA teams.
The last time a USC soccer game was showcased on television was in 2009 — an away game against No. 3 UCLA. Not even the Women of Troy’s 2010 game against UCLA, played at the Coliseum in front of 8,527 fans, managed to crack the airwaves.
But with the Pac-12 Networks’ debut last Wednesday, the Women of Troy will be featured on TV nine times this season alone, each time reaching a larger regional audience than their previous local telecasts did.
For the players, TV exposure is rewarding and exciting. Families can now watch certain road games and players can watch their friends on other teams (and scout them, too) and have the chance to be seen by a broader audience.
And for coaches, the possibilities are endless: recruiting, scouting, building an identity for the program, recruiting again.
“The more visibility you have, the more kids are going to be enticed to come play,” USC coach Ali Khosroshahin said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have lights here, so it’s hard for people to get out here and see us play. I think the network will allow a lot more people to see us that normally don’t get the opportunity to.”
From the pure excitement the current USC players have when talking about the chance to play on TV regularly, it’s obvious that that opportunity will be a big plus to recruits.
“It has a huge impact [on recruiting],” said junior midfielder Autumn Altimirano. “Having a network that people can watch your games on is pretty awesome — we’re all really looking forward to it.”
Plagued by injuries throughout a disastrous 2011 season in which the Women of Troy suffered the second-most losses in program history, Khosroshahin and the coaching staff went on the recruiting trail like they never had before, bringing in 20 new players, including five transfers. Some of them already felt the pull of the Pac-12 Networks.
“When I was in high school, I never even thought about West Coast schools because I’m from 2,000 miles away,” said sophomore goalie Caroline Stanley, a transfer from Missouri. “So I think it will boost recruiting for sure, especially when they see how we play. It will be a showcase for girls all across the country.”
Stanley perhaps takes thatmentality — that it’s not just the notion of being on TV that is attractive to potential recruits, but the way USC moves the ball fluidly and attacks downfield — from her new coach.
“It’s only going to help us,” Khosroshahin said. “The way we play the game is [an] attractive style, and I think the more people that get to see us play, they’re going to realize what it is we got here.”
And Stanley believes that the newfound exposure will be good not only for USC, but for the sport on a national level as well.
“Women’s soccer doesn’t get a lot of recognition,” Stanley said. “[The] Pac-12 Networks will really showcase our team, along with the other Pac-12 teams. People will see that Pac-12 soccer can compete with the Atlantic Coast Conference.”