The USC women’s soccer team came away with two impressive results in the Bay Area this weekend, tying No. 8 California 1-1 on Friday and stunning No. 5 Stanford on Sunday with a 1-0 shutout victory. Junior midfielder Alex Quincey played the role of the hero for the Women of Troy in both matches, picking up an equalizing goal against the Bears and the winner against the Cardinal. Quincey’s excellent weekend helped her squad pick up its first Pac-12 win while ending a rough four-game losing streak. USC now stands at 6-6-2 overall, with a 1-3-1 Pac-12 record.
In Friday’s match, it was immediately apparent that USC’s recent skid was a distant memory. The team came out firing, putting steady pressure on a Golden Bears team that was riding a 13-game undefeated run. The Women of Troy outshot Cal 20-8, while overcoming 21 penalties en route to the much-needed draw. In the first half, freshmen forwards Kayla Mills and Tanya Samarzich led the USC offense to multiple scoring opportunities, but USC could never quite convert. It was the Bears, in fact, who struck first, opening up the scoring with a Rachel Mercik goal in the 27th minute. Just before the half, USC sophomore defender Marlee Carrillo nearly evened the score off of a promising corner kick from sophomore midfielder Jamie Fink, but her shot was turned away at the last second.
In the second half, the Women of Troy continued to dominate possession, but could not get the breakthrough they needed. It was not until the 78th minute, however, that USC finally got on the scoreboard. A wayward Cal clearance landed at the feet of Quincey, who ripped an impressive shot from distance into the inside of the net. The goal marked the end of 454 minutes of scoreless play for the Women of Troy, and seemed to lift a weight off the team’s shoulders. Though the team did have a few chances at winners in regulation and overtime, a tie against the undefeated Bears remained a welcomed result.
“[The goal] felt great,” Quincey told USCTrojans.com. “With the scoring drought we’ve had, I think it kind of gave us that boost. Hopefully from now on, we’ll just be scoring tons of goals.”
Two days later in Palo Alto, USC was just as prepared for its second top-10 matchup of the weekend. In a more controlled effort, the squad played to its strengths — possession and defense. USC junior goalkeeper Caroline Stanley came up with eight saves against a Cardinal team that outshot the Women of Troy 15-8 and certainly had plenty of opportunities to score. Still, USC very much appeared like it belonged with the nation’s best throughout the game.
“It took major fight, major courage,” Mills told USCTrojans.com after the game. “[The defense] is awesome, and sometimes they don’t get enough credit because of our lack of scoring.”
Once again, however, it was Quincey who sealed the victory. At the 59-minute mark, the junior headed a beautiful Mills corner kick off the crossbar and into the net. The goal followed a scoreless first half and led into another stretch of solid defensive play to clinch the win.
It was clear that the goal and the win were a cause of relief for USC head coach Ali Khosroshahin and his players.
“We had been waiting 35-plus chances for a corner to go in,” the seventh year coach said. “It felt really good.”
The win ended a five-game winless drought for the Women of Troy and extended a three-game losing streak for the Cardinal (9-3-1, 2-3-0).
“We had been close so much this year, and it had been heartbreaking the types of losses we’d taken,” Khosroshahin said. “These ladies deserved this. I couldn’t be more proud of this team and it’s about time the ball bounced in our favor.”