No. 23 USC prepares for home opener

After taking its first loss of the season on a tough out-of-state road trip, the USC women’s soccer team is back in action for two home matchups this weekend.

Crossed up · Senior midfielder Autumn Altamirano has two assists for the Women of Troy this season after starting all 18 games last year. - Joseph Chen | Daily Trojan

Crossed up · Senior midfielder Autumn Altamirano has two assists for the Women of Troy this season after starting all 18 games last year. – Joseph Chen | Daily Trojan


On Friday, the Women of Troy will welcome the Pepperdine Waves to McAlister Field for a 2:30 p.m. game. The squad will then host Loyola Marymount at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

No. 23 USC (3-1-1) fought two hard battles in the Minnesota heat last week, but failed to come out with a victory. A 1-1 tie against Ole Miss and 1-0 loss to LSU, on the heels of a strong 3-0 start, have given the Women of Troy extra motivation going into their next two games.

Sophomore midfielder Megan Borman knows the team learned a lot during their road trip.

“We got a red card, so we had to substitute and learn to defend with ten people. That was the biggest thing,” Borman said. “So even though we didn’t get the wins we wanted, it was still a positive weekend.”

Like USC, Pepperdine began its 2013 campaign on a high note before slowing down. The Waves started the season 2-0-1, but suffered two tough losses last weekend to No. 11 Michigan and Tulane.

Goalkeeper Hannah Saebert leads a strong backline for Pepperdine that has only allowed seven goals in five games. It will take a bounce back effort from USC’s dynamic attack to break through the Waves’ defense. After scoring four times in each of their first three games, the Women of Troy combined for just one goal against Ole Miss and LSU.

Coach Ali Khosroshahin attributed this to a lack of patience on offense.

“Too many times we times we would get into a situation and options wouldn’t develop, so we would just dump it in [and] lead to another turnover,” Khosroshahin said. “This weekend we need to keep the ball until we can create better looks at goal, higher percentage opportunities.”

Borman echoed her coach’s thoughts. “We have to work on finishing our chances,” she said. “We have so many girls who are almost 6- feet tall, we call them the trees. We have been working on timing our runs and getting our crosses in the right spots.”

Loyola Marymount (3-3) also enters its matchup with USC on a two-game losing streak, having fallen to No. 4 Stanford and Long Beach State last week. The Lions mirror the Women of Troy in their offensive balance; four LMU players have scored at least one goal this season.

The Women of Troy have three forwards — senior Elizabeth Eddy and freshmen Kayla Mills and Tanya Samarzich — with at least three goals.

USC junior goalkeeper Caroline Stanley will have her hands full with the Lions’ balanced attack, but should be up to the task. Stanley and the Trojans’ defense have allowed more than one goal only once this year.

This weekend marks the first time the team can be seen on television this season, a good opportunity for the team to gain some exposure on a national level. The Pac-12 network will televise Friday’s game live, and Sunday’s contest can be followed live on the Pac-12 website.

The Women of Troy fell from 17th to 23rd in the NCAA rankings after their road trip, and a televised win could help the squad climb the rankings once again. But Khosroshahin is just excited to be back home.

“We love LA. We love Southern California,” the 7th year coach said. “It will be nice to be here at McAlister and in front of the Trojan Family.”

Borman agreed. “Traveling is tough,” she said. “Playing at home certainly has its advantages.”

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