Women of Troy defeat Oregon, Oregon State

first_imgIn search of an emotional lift after a tough stretch of hard-fought losses, the USC women’s soccer team scored golden goals in consecutive overtime games this weekend, and return from a road trip to the state of Oregon with two conference victories.Roasted Duck · Freshman midfielder Sydney Sladek provided the deciding goal in a crucial double-overtime win over Oregon on Friday. – Brian Ji | Daily Trojan Freshman midfielder Sydney Sladek slotted home the winner in a 1-0 victory over Oregon (6-8-2, 2-5-1) on Friday, while senior midfielder Alex Quincey did the same in a 2-1 win against Oregon State (0-14-3, 0-7-0) on Sunday.Heading into the weekend, the Women of Troy (10-5-2, 4-4-0 Pac-12) had dropped four of their previous five matchups, all in Pac-12 play. The stretch was especially frustrating because all five games were played at home, and despite amassing 56 combined shots in the four losses, the Women of Troy only found the back of the net once.“We needed to get hungrier, particularly offensively,” head coach Keidane McAlpine said. “Every team in this conference is talented and scouts well, and so we need to do a better job being aggressive and ready to go.”The team rose to the occasion in their Friday matchup against a tough Duck squad. After an intense back-and-forth scoreless regulation period, the two teams went into overtime to determine the outcome of the match. Neither team was able to break through in the first OT period, setting up Sladek for some late-game heroics. In the 104th minute, Sladek struck a beautiful shot from 25 yards out that floated over the head of Ducks goalkeeper Abby Steele into the nylon netting of the goal for the walk-off winner.The golden goal helped the team build some much-needed momentum heading into their second match of the weekend, against the hapless Beavers.“[Oregon] was a fantastic and much-needed win for us,” McAlpine said after the match. “I am very happy with the contribution that every player made tonight.”The Women of Troy were able to do just that in Sunday’s matchup with Oregon State, though it was by no means a clean victory. The Beavers put up a surprisingly solid defense, partially due to a little home-field help: Rain fell throughout the game, creating a very wet and muddy surface out of a field that was already fairly torn up from the OSU men’s soccer team.“The field conditions Sunday were pretty poor,” junior defender Whitney Pitalo said. “It was raining the whole time. Our jerseys and socks were covered in mud by the end of the game.”Much like the weather, the game got off to a bit of a dreary start, as Oregon State broke a 0-0 tie early in the second half with a ricochet goal in the box in the 49th minute from OSU defender Miranda Stiver. The goal was just the third of the season for the winless Beavers.Instead of burying their heads in the mud, however, the Women of Troy responded just four minutes later with an equalizing corner kick header from Pitalo, assisted by junior midfielder Jamie Fink. It was Pitalo’s first goal of the season, and it came at a crucial time for USC.“[Freshman midfielder] Nicole Molen and I are two of the players who are supposed to be in the box looking for headers on corner kicks,” Pitalo said. “We had been struggling a little bit to put away chances this season, so on Sunday, when the chance came to me, I said to myself, ‘This needs to happen.’”Not only was the score a crucial response for the team, but it meant a little something extra for Pitalo, who was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week for her efforts.“I’m from Oregon,” she said. “For me, it was really exciting to play there and do well in front of my loved ones.”Pitalo’s goal was the last of regulation, and once again, the Women of Troy found themselves facing an overtime situation. With the confidence they gained after Friday’s double-overtime victory, however, they were prepared for the do-or-die atmosphere. In the 96th minute, Quincey buried her team-best 10th goal of the season into the back of the net, securing the victory for USC and sending the Beavers home. The victory brought the team’s Pac-12 Conference record back to even, at 4-4.The Women of Troy now will have the week to prepare for a two-game road trip to Washington this upcoming weekend, where they will face No. 18 Washington on Friday followed by No. 24 Washington State on Sunday. Both games will be huge contests for USC, who will need to perform well in order to keep their playoff aspirations alive. The game Sunday at Washington State will be especially meaningful, as it is a homecoming game for McAlpine and his staff, who left the Cougars’ program at the end of last season to take the job at USC.Though the team still faces a tough path in the weeks ahead, the two road victories should help the Women of Troy to restore a sense of confidence that has been missing in the last few weeks.“Keidane {McAlpine] told us going into this past weekend that when aggression meets aggression, talent will prevail,” Pitalo said. “We are a great team and know we have the talent, so now it comes down to our mentality and being able to match the opposition’s aggression.”last_img

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