Women of Troy unable to top No. 1 UCLA

September 17, 2020 | |Post a Comment

first_imgOn the surface, ending the regular season with a 2-0 loss to crosstown rival UCLA would seem like a disappointment for the USC women’s soccer team. The Bruins (18-0-2, 10-0-1 Pac-12) outshot the Women of Troy (12-6-2, 6-5-0) 24-3 over the course of Friday night’s contest, including an 11-0 advantage in shots on goal, and came away with the victory to remain the No. 1 overall team in the country and secure the Pac-12 regular season title.Not quite enough · Senior goalie Caroline Stanley kept No. 1 UCLA off the board for nearly 80 minutes on Friday night, but USC eventually fell, 2-0. – Mariya Dondonyan | Daily TrojanDespite this, head coach Keidane McAlpine and his USC squad were more satisified than somber after the loss.“I say job well done,” McAlpine said. “I thought our energy was absolutely fantastic. We were playing the defending national champions, who have nine seniors that have been playing together for a long time. They have a lot of experiences together, and we are just now starting to figure out how we want to play and are getting some of those experiences ourselves.”The regular-season finale was played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and smashed the NCAA regular-season record for attendance in a single game: 10,128 fans came to see the “Battle for Los Angeles,” breaking the previous regular-season record — once again set at the Coliseum in a game between USC and UCLA — of 8,527 from 2010.“These girls may never play in something like this again,” McAlpine said. “We wouldn’t have been able to run that hard and that fast for that long without the energy of the crowd.”Senior forward Jessica Musmanno agreed with her coach’s sentiments.“You could just feel the energy of the crowd,” Musmanno said. “Even though we didn’t get the result we wanted, it was still a really fun game.”The record number of fans did not faze the Women of Troy, who turned in an excellent, hard-fought performance despite the discrepancy in shots. UCLA forward Kylie McCarthy scored both goals for the Bruins, first in the 79th minute and then again in the 87th minute to seal the game. The score could have been far more lopsided, however, had it not been for some stout defense from USC’s back line, anchored by senior captain and goalie Caroline Stanley.Stanley made eight saves in the game, helping preserve the 0-0 tie for the first 78 minutes of the game despite numerous scoring chances for the Bruins.“I thought by far this was [Caroline Stanley’s] best game of the year,” McAlpine said. “I thought as a team, our commitment to blocking shots and defending by sticking our bodies out there was absolutely fantastic, especially in our back five.”Musmanno was appreciative of her classmate’s efforts.“Caroline [Stanley] made some major saves,” Musmanno said. “Our whole back line killed it today. It is unfortunate that we let two goals in, but on the whole, everyone did great.”It is certainly encouraging for the team that Stanley played so well in the biggest game of the season thus far. The Women of Troy will need her at her best during postseason play, when the “win or go home” environment will bring about an even more intense burden of pressure.Though they allowed 24 shots, the Women of Troy were happy with their defensive performance, especially considering the discrepancy in experience between the senior-heavy Bruin team and the youth-infused USC squad.“I have all sophomores on my defensive line,” Stanley said. “That’s almost unheard of: the entire UCLA starting line is seniors. Despite being young, our team played like women tonight. They made my job a lot easier that it could have been, should have been and has been in the past, so I am just very proud of them.”Despite the largely positive outlook on Friday’s game, the Women of Troy know they still have things to work on to find success in the postseason, particularly offensively.“We could have been better in our front half,” McAlpine said. “We weren’t as patient when we got in their half of the field. We tried to force things down the middle of the field and they did a good job of collapsing the space in the middle. We needed to get the ball out wide a little more and try to get around the edge.”In addition to the weight of the rivalry, Friday’s game was also emotional for the four seniors on the team, as they were honored for their leadership and participation during their time as USC players. Fortunately, and unlike in years past, Friday’s game was more sweet than bitter for the seniors.“It was an emotional night obviously,” Stanley said. “However, in the past, this has been the last game of the season for USC. There hasn’t been hope for a postseason berth in quite a while, so it made it a little sweeter knowing that this isn’t our final game.”Though the Women of Troy do not yet know their postseason fate, they are expected to be selected for the playoffs after finishing the regular season with both a winning conference record and winning record overall. The team plans on using Friday’s game as a learning tool to improve before beginning their postseason quest.“I think the loss to UCLA will help us be even more competitive in practice this week,” Musmanno said. “We now know the level of competition we will see in the postseason. There is no team better than UCLA, the defending champions, and I think we stuck with them well for the most part. I think we can go pretty far in the playoffs, and I would love to see us play them again.”Despite not knowing their playoff destiny, the team has no shortage of confidence in their ability to make noise in the postseason, no matter who their opponent may be.“We’ve got a really good team,” McAlpine said. “I’m very excited about our future and how we played against UCLA. Yes, we can fine-tune some things, and yes, we probably got caught up in the moment a few times, but the truth is, we are only now cracking the surface of what our potential can be.”The team will find out where they stand on Monday during the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Tournament selection show at 1:30 p.m. on NCAA.com. The Women of Troy are expected to earn a berth, but will likely be playing on the road for the duration of the playoffs.last_img

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