No. 14 USC Women's Soccer Opens Pac-12 Play at ASU
THIS WEEK - The No. 14 USC women's soccer team opens Pac-12 play on the road against Arizona State on Friday.
GAME 2 - No. 14 USC (1-0) at Arizona State (4-0) - Friday, Feb. 26, 6 p.m. (Tempe, Ariz.)
HOW TO FOLLOW - Friday's game will be streamed live via Pac-12+ on thesundevils.com. Links for the broadcast and live stats can be found on the women's soccer schedule page at USCTrojans.com. In-game updates will also be available on Twitter by following @USC_Wsoccer.
SOCIAL MEDIA - Keep up with everything USC women's soccer this year by following the Trojans on all of their social media platforms. You can follow @USCWsoccer on Instagram and @USC_Wsoccer on Twitter, and like USC Women's Soccer on Facebook.
LAST WEEK - After an opening week cancelation, the Trojans finally started their season last Monday (Feb. 15), picking up a win at home against No. 10 BYU. The Trojans beat the Cougars 4-3 in overtime, getting the golden goal from Jennifer Westendorf in the 97th minute. Tara McKeown scored twice in the game and Penelope Hocking scored once. Croix Bethune had two assists in her collegiate debut as well.
WEEKLY HONOR - McKeown was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after her brace against BYU. It was her fifth multi-goal game and third Pac-12 weekly honor.
2020-21 SEASON - Like all things, the 2020 women's soccer season was upended by the Covid-19 pandemic. The NCAA made the decision to move all fall championships to the spring back in August. The Trojans will play an abbreviated schedule this spring, with the NCAA College Cup being held May 13-17 in North Carolina. All players who compete this spring will not lose a season of eligibility and will still be able to play in the fall even if they are seniors.
KICKIN' IT IN THE COLI - The Trojans will play their 2020-21 spring season home games in the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. With the USC women's lacrosse team also playing on the Trojans typical home, McAlister Field, soccer's move to the Coliseum will reduce game conflicts, as well as wear and tear on the field.
FAN POLICY - In accordance with the Pac-12 and Los Angeles County Public Health Department policies, USC will not have fans in attendance at its home games this spring.
MEDIA POLICY - Limited media members will be allowed to apply for credentials to USC women's soccer home games. Credentialed media members will only have access to a designated media area, and no in-person interviews will be allowed. All postgame and weekly interviews will be conducted virtually and upon request. Please contact Jacob Breems (Breems@usc.edu) for more media information and to apply for credentials.
A LOOK AT THE 2020-21 TROJANS
FORWARDS - The Trojans return one of the highest scoring duos in the nation in Tara McKeown and Penelope Hocking. McKeown (15) and Hocking (18) combined to score 33 of USC's 47 goals last season, finishing 4th and 2nd respectively in the Pac-12 scoring race. The Trojan frontline is also bolstered by a host of young talent in sophomore Hannah White and freshmen Angeles Escobar and Katie Roditis, as well as veteran transfer Jennifer Westendorf. White saw limited action last year before missing most of the year with an injury. Escobar comes to USC after posting a staggering 181 prep goals at Eastside HS in Lancaster, Calif., and Roditis comes to USC after a successful club career at Beach FC. Westendorf starred at Notre Dame before taking a year off and then transferring to USC. She posted 20 goals and 13 assists in three seasons with the Irish. Also looking to contribute up top and in the midfield will be sophomores Olufolasade Adamolekun and Savianna Gomez. Gomez led all Trojan freshmen last year with two goals and two assists, and Adamolekun posted two assists on her way to Pac-12 All-Freshman Team honors.
MIDFIELD - The USC midfield is as deep as ever thanks to both an influx of newcomers and several key returners coming off of redshirt seasons. Most notably back in the middle of the pitch will be USC's #10, Savannah DeMelo, who missed last year with an injury. DeMelo, a perennial MAC Hermann Trophy candidate, has 15 assists and 13 goals in her two seasons at USC. Samantha Trinceri also looks to see time in the midfield after sitting last year out. She has two seasons and 29 games of experience under her belt prior to 2019. In addition to the aforementioned Adomolekun and Gomez, who saw time in the midfield last year, USC returns junior Madeline Vergura and sophomore Jaelyn Eisenhart, who played 15 and 18 games respectively last year, and the Trojans also have senior Samantha Bruder as an option, though she looks to play mainly on the backline. Eisenhart scored one goal and was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team in 2019. She also is likely will see time as a defender. Looking forward to her first collegiate action in the midfield this year will be 2019 top recruit Croix Bethune, who missed last year with an injury. Freshmen Zoe Burns and Alexa Gonzalez round out the midfield for USC. Burns comes to Troy with U.S. Youth National Team development experience and Gonzalez was Cal South Player of the Year in 2019 for Legends FC.
BACKLINE - USC's defense has a host of new faces this year, but at least one constant anchoring the group in senior center back Jessica Haidet. Haidet comes into this season with 53 career games played and a total of 41 starts as a center back in the last two years. The only other defender on the roster to see game action on the backline in a USC jersey is Kaylin Martin, who played 21 games and made 16 starts in 2019 on her way to Pac-12 All-Freshman Team recognition. Adding some more experience to the mix, Samantha Bruder, who spent most of last season playing in the midfield, looks to transition to the back this year. Bruder has contributed all over the field during her USC career and currently has two goals and three assists in 46 career games. As mentioned in the midfield section, Jaelyn Eisenhart is expected to contribute to the defensive line as well. Though not having seen action in a USC uniform, the Trojans do have another collegiate veteran in the fold with Boston University transfer Lily Perryman. Perryman comes to USC after 20 games in two years at Boston. Three players from the Trojans' 2019 recruiting class redshirted last season, with Isabel Rolley, Lily Babalola and Savannah Kessler looking to make their collegiate debuts this spring. Joining USC from this season's recruiting class will be a pair of Hawaiian defenders in Anuhea Kane and Mary Shin, who both had decorated club and prep careers.
GOALKEEPERS UNION - The first name to know at a deep goalkeeper position for USC is senior standout Kaylie Collins. Collins, the 2018 Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year and All-American, missed some time with injury last year, but comes in healthy this season and has 23 career shutouts on her resume. Junior Anna Smith stepped in when Collins missed time last year and helped USC not skip a beat, making 44 saves and posting three shutouts in 12 games. With Smith and Collins, the Trojans have two experienced and talented options in goal. Coming in behind the two veterans will be a pair of freshmen in Talia Grossman and Emily Rhinehart. Grossman was a standout at Menlo School in Atherton, Calif. and has international experience with the Australian U-19 squad. Rhinehart made her way to Troy from the East Coast where she posted a 0.22 GAA in prep play and 0.46 GAA in club play. Both Grossman and Rhinehart are versatile athletes, with Grossman playing high school baseball, and Rhinehart playing basketball and lacrosse.
LAST YEAR - The Trojans made another NCAA Tournament run last year, coming up just short of the College Cup. USC finished the 2019 season 17-5-1 overall, ending their campaign in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament against national runners-up North Carolina. USC reached as high as No. 2 in the national rankings in 2019 and made their sixth straight postseason appearance.
MAC HERMANN WATCH - Three Trojans were named to the MAC Hermann Trophy watch list this year, with Tara McKeown, Penelope Hocking and Savannah DeMelo all on the 54 player list. McKeown was a semifinalist for college soccer's top award last year and DeMelo has been on the watch list each of the last three seasons. USC has had at least a semifinalist for the award three of the last four years.
NWSL DRAFT - Two NWSL Drafts have passed since the Trojans last played a game and four USC players have been selected. Following the 2019 campaign, Natalie Jacobs was selected by the Washington Spirit with the 13th overall selection, and Julia Bingham was taken by the Chicago Red Stars 15th overall. Both went on to play for their respective teams the following season. This year's NWSL draft was unique in that selected players are still eligible to compete in both the spring and fall of 2021, if they choose. Tara McKeown was taken eight overall by the Spirit and Kaylie Collins was selected in the fourth round by the Orlando Pride. Both McKeown and Collins will play with the Trojans this spring.