No. 8 USC Women's Soccer Faces Off With No. 3 UCLA for Pac-12 Title on Friday
THIS WEEK - The No. 8 USC women's soccer team squares off with crosstown rivals No. 3 UCLA on Friday at 8 p.m. in a game that will decide the Pac-12 championship. A win or draw by USC in Westwood, and the Trojans are the outright conference champs, the Bruins need a victory.
HOW TO FOLLOW - Friday's de facto title game will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks. 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.
PAC-12 TITLE RACE - The Trojans are two points up on UCLA in the Pac-12 title race, putting them in position to win their first ever outright conference championship with a win or draw. UCLA needs a win to secure the title. A crowded field of contenders has been whittled down to just the Bruins and Trojans, with Washington State sitting three points back of the Bruins and Sanford another two points behind them. USC has just one shared Pac-12 Championship back in 1998.
RECORD WIN STREAK - After losing its first two games of the year, USC regrouped and won 11 straight, including its first 6 games of Pac-12 play. The Trojans outscored their opponents 39-7 over that span. USC's win at Oregon broke the program record for consecutive wins, which was set in 2016. The Trojans gave up more than one goal only once during the streak, a 4-2 victory on Aug. 28 at Utah Valley to kick off the 11-game winning streak. USC's draw at WSU broke the win streak, but a subsequent draw at Washington and wins over Cal and Stanford gave USC a program-record 15 match unbeaten streak.
COMEBACK VS THE CARDINAL - USC pulled off a thrilling comeback win against then-No. 9 Stanford on Sunday, erasing a 2-0 first half deficit to win 3-2 in overtime. Simone Jackson scored USC's first goal early in the second half and Croix Bethune followed with the equalizer two minutes later. It was Bethune who won it in overtime, finishing the comeback with a 93rd minute goal.
DOWNING CAL - The Trojans picked up their 7th shutout of the year in a 2-0 victory over Cal on Thursday. Croix Bethune and Hannah White scored and the USC defense held the Bears to 2 shots on the afternoon.
OFFENSIVE OUTBURST VS UTAH - The Trojans put on one of the most impressive offensive displays in program history earlier this season, beating Utah 7-0 at home. The Trojans had six different goal scorers and an own goal in the game, scoring twice in the first half and five times in the second. USC's 7 goals were the most a Trojan team has scored since a program record 9-0 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2014, and were the most ever in Pac-12 play by a USC squad. The 7 goals also matched the second highest goal total of any team in Pac-12 history. UCLA has scored 8 goals in conference play twice and Stanford has done it once. The last team to score at least 7 goals in a Pac-12 game was Cal in 2015 (7-0 vs. UCLA). The Trojan defense more than held its own in the game as well, limiting the Utes to just three shots and only one on goal for the afternoon.
USC: Coaches Poll - No. 8
Top Drawer Soccer - No. 10
RPI - No. 11
UCLA: Coaches Poll - No. 3
Top Drawer Soccer - No. 3
RPI - No. 16
CROIX BETHUNE - Bethune, who was named to the All-Pac-12 first team in her inaugural season this past spring, leads the Trojans in goals, assists and points so far this year (13 goals, 7 assists, 33 points). She is 2nd in the Pac-12 in goals, 2nd in total points and T-4th in assists. Bethune's most recent heroics came when she had a hand in all three goals in the comeback win over Stanford, assisting on the Trojans' first score and then scoring the last two, including the winner in overtime. She also scored once against Cal, earning her second Pac-12 offensive Player of the Week honors this season. She also picked up National Player of the Week recognition from Top Drawer Soccer. Bethune has at least a point in 13 of USC's 17 games, has scored in 10 different contests and has 3 braces on the year. 2 of those 3 braces came in the last 2 weeks, as Bethune has 5 goals in her last 3 games.
RECORD BREAKER - Penelope Hocking became the Trojans' all-time leading scorer when she posted her 49th career goal against Colorado on Oct. 7. Hocking struck in the 21st minute against the Buffs, passing Isabelle Harvey on the career list. Harvey's record of 48 goals had stood for 21 years before Hocking broke it. Hocking also moved into a tie for 14th on the Pac-12 career scoring list with her 50th goal against Utah the following game and is now alone in 14th after her 51st goal against Oregon. She and former Stanford star Catarina Macario are the only two players to crack the top 15 of the Pac-12's scoring list in the last 10 years.
PAC-12 CAREER SCORING LIST:
1. Kim Lynass, WSU (1990-93) – 83
2. Christen Press, STAN (2007-10) – 71
Lauren Cheney, UCLA (2006-09) – 71
Traci Arkenberg, UCLA (1994-97) – 71
5. Catarina Macario, STAN (2017-19) – 63
6. Danesha Adams, UCLA (2004-07) – 60
7. Sarah Rafanelli, STAN (1990-93) – 59
8. Kelley O'Hara, STAN (2006-09) – 57
Sydney Leroux, UCLA (2008-11) – 57
10. Laura Schott, CAL (1999-02) – 56
11. Joy Biefeld, CAL (1986-89) – 55
12. Lindsay Taylor, STAN (2008-11) – 53
13. Julie Foudy, STAN (1989-92) – 52
14. Penelope Hocking, USC (2018-21) – 51
15. Stacey Tullock, ASU (1998-01) – 50
- Has missed the last 3 games with injury and also missed 2 games early in the year.
- T-7th in Pac-12 w/ 9 goals, T-6th with 22 pts
- Career numbers: 1st all-time in goals with 51, 2nd in points with 122 (leader: 135), 2nd in game-winning goals with 15 (leader: 21), 9th in assists with 20 (leader: 39) and 1st in shots with 259.
- Named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week (10/11) after 2 goals and 1 assist against Colorado and Utah
- Last season was named to the All-America first team, a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy and the Pac-12 Forward of the Year, in addition to being an Academic All-American.
- Has been named to the All-Pac-12 team each of the last three years, and was also a Freshman All-American and the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2018.
- Named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List this season. Was a semifinalist for the award last year.
- Named a finalist for the 2021 Senior CLASS Award.
ANNA SMITH - After battling for the starting job with All-American Kaylie Collins for the last three years, Smith came into the 2021 season as the Trojans' starting keeper and the only goalie on the USC roster with any collegiate experience. Smith has played every minute in goal, posting 7 shutouts. She was named the Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week on 9/6 after two clean sheets and a PK save against No. 16 Michigan and Western Michigan on the road. Smith has 2 PK saves this year. Her .824 save percentage is 4th in the conference. For her career, Smith has a 22-5-3 record and 9 shutouts. Twice this year she has posted a career high 11 saves, against Michigan and Washington State.
SAVANNAH DeMELO - Senior Savannah DeMelo has been doing it all as of late, controlling the game both offensively and defensively from the midfield. DeMelo had two assists against Stanford, including stealing the ball and then sending it ahead to Bethune for the winner in OT. DeMelo is tied for 3rd on team with 14 pts (4G, 6A). She is a 3-time All-Pac-12 honoree, 1-time All-American and has been on the MAC Hermann watch list each of the last 3 years.
PLAYER QUICK HITS:
- Freshman Aaliyah Farmer has started all but 4 games as the Trojans' holding midfielder, helping the team to 7 shutouts while also recording 2 goals and 2 assists.
- Freshman Brooklyn Courtnall has started every game at center back far this year, helping the team to 7 shutouts. She trails only GK Anna Smith in minutes played with 1,559. Courtnall posted her first career assist against CSUN, providing the helper on Hannah White's 71st minute strike.
- Freshman Simone Jackson, the No. 3 recruit in the country this past recruiting cycle, scored her first career goal against Utah Valley earlier this year. For the season, Jackson has 4 goals and 6 assists, and sits T-3rd on the team in pts with 14. She had a goal and an assist against Stanford last time out, and over her last 6 games has 5 assists and a goal.
- After suffering through injuries her first two seasons, Hannah White has become a real attacking threat off the bench for USC, posting 4 goals and 3 assists in 14 games played.
- Freshman Simi Awujo scored her first career goal against Western Michigan (9/5), and has added two assists as well. After coming off the bench early in the year, she has started every game in Pac-12 play.
- Freshman Julia Gomez scored her first goal against CSUN (9/19), freshman Helena Sampaio scored her first goal against Utah (10/10) and freshman Izzy Kimberly also scored her first goal against the Utes (10/10).
- Striker Jada Talley transferred to USC after an All-Pac-12 career at Arizona and is currently 6th on the team with 7 points (3 G, 1 A). Talley scored the game-winner on the road in Tucson against her former club on 10/3. She has 2 goals in her last 4 games played.
- The Trojans are 11th in the country and 1st in the Pac-12 with 2.76 goals/game
- USC is 13th in the NCAA, 1st in the Pac-12 with 2.65 assists/game
- USC's 8.18 pts/game are 11th in the NCAA and 1st in the Pac-12
- 13 different Trojans have scored this year and 7 players have recorded multiple goals. 18 different USC players have recorded at least a point in a game this season.
HERMANN WATCH - USC's Penelope Hocking and Savannah DeMelo were both named to the preseason watch list for the MAC Hermann Trophy. Hocking was named a semifinalist for the award last season and DeMelo has been on the watch list each of the last 3 seasons.
LAST SEASON - The 2020 season was delayed until the spring of 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Trojans finished 7-3-4 overall and 6-3-2 in Pac-12 play, grabbing 2nd in the conference standings. USC made its 7th straight postseason appearance, continuing a streak that started when Head Coach Keidane McAlpine arrived in 2014. USC was bounced from the postseason in its opening game (2nd round/1st round bye) falling to Ole Miss in PK's.
ROSTER DEPTH - The Trojans enter the season with a 35-player roster. USC returns 20 letterwinners from last season, heading into the year with four All-Pac-12 honorees, three All-Region players and one First-Team All-American. The Trojans also brought in the No. 4 recruiting class in the nation and added All-Pac-12 transfer Jada Talley.
SELECTION SHOW - The NCAA selection show, which will reveal the entire women's soccer postseason field, will be held on Monday, Nov. 8 at 1:30 p.m. PT, and will be streamed on NCAA.com. The Trojans look in position to secure a national seed in the tournament and would be an automatic qualifier if they win the conference title.
POSTSEASON HISTORY - USC has made 19 total NCAA Postseason appearances and seven straight since Keidane McAlpine took over the program in 2014. USC has won two National Championships in its history, becoming the first Pac-12 program to win a title in 2007 and then the first program from the conference to win a second title in 2016 (McAlpine's third year at the helm). The Trojans have only missed the postseason nine times in the program's 28 year history and have advanced past at least the first round in 13 of its last 19 tournaments. It its last seven posteason appearances, the Trojans have won at least one game five times.