USC Women's Soccer Opens Postseason Play Saturday Against Grand Canyon
THIS WEEK - The No. 11 USC women's soccer team opens up NCAA Tournament play at home on Saturday, hosting Grand Canyon for a 1 p.m. first-round contest.
HOW TO FOLLOW - Saturday's game will be streamed live on Pac-12 Insider, via USCTrojans.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.
POSTSEASON DRAW - USC drew a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament this year after finishing the season 13-3-2. It is the 7th straight year that the Trojans have been a national seed in the tournament and the 8th straight season USC has made the postseason.
REGULAR SEASON RECAP - The Trojans finished the regular season second in the Pac-12 standings with an 8-1-2 conference mark, earning an at-large bid to this year's tournament. USC dropped its first two games of the season before rattling off a program-record 11-match winning streak and 15-match unbeaten streak. The Trojans reached as high as No. 5 in the national rankings and were ranked No. 11 in the latest poll. USC's three losses all came to national seeds in this year's tournament field (4-seed Pepperdine, 4-seed BYU, 2-seed UCLA). The Trojans can claim wins over two teams in this year's postseason (2-seed Michigan, Stanford) and a draw with Washington State.
POSTSEASON HISTORY - USC is making its 20th NCAA Postseason appearance this year and eighth 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 29 year history and have advanced past at least the first round 13 times. USC has been a national seed in the NCAA field each of the last seven years.
LAST TIME OUT - The Trojans ended the regular season with a loss at No. 3 UCLA last week, falling 3-1 to the Bruins. Penelope Hocking scored USC's lone goal on a PK after Hannah White was taken down in the box.
OPPONENT INFO - Grand Canyon comes into the tournament as an automatic qualifier after winning a WAC tournament title. The Lopes went 16-3-2 this year and posted a 7-1-2 conference record. It is the first NCAA Tournament berth in program history for GCU. It is also the first time the Trojans and Lopes have met.
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 (10 straight). 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.
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. 11
Top Drawer Soccer - No. 11
RPI - No. 15
GCU: Coaches Poll - RV
Top Drawer Soccer - N/A
RPI - No. 37
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 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 18 games, has scored in 10 different contests and has 3 braces on the year. 2 of those 3 braces came in the last 3 weeks, as Bethune has 5 goals in her last 4 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 recently moved into a tie for 13th on the Pac-12 career scoring list with former Stanford star Julie Foudy after her 52nd career goal against UCLA. She and Catarina Macario (Stanford/USWNT) are the only two players to crack the top 15 of the Pac-12's career 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
Penelope Hocking, USC (2018-21) – 52
15. Stacey Tullock, ASU (1998-01) – 50
- Missed 3 of the Trojans' last 4 games with injury and also missed 2 games early in the year.
- 6th in Pac-12 w/ 10 goals, 6th with 24 pts
- Career numbers: 1st all-time in goals with 52, 2nd in points with 124 (leader: 135), 2nd in game-winning goals with 15 (leader: 21), 9th in assists with 20 (leader: 39) and 1st in shots with 262.
- 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 .778 save percentage is 4th in the conference. For her career, Smith has a 22-6-3 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 made 13 starts 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 1,649, having been subbed off only once this season. 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, and over her last 7 games has 5 assists and a goal.
- After suffering through injuries her first 2 seasons, Hannah White has become an attacking threat off the bench, posting 4 goals and 3 assists in 15 games played.
- Freshman Simi Awujo scored her first career goal at Western Michigan (9/5), and has added two assists as well. After coming off the bench early in the year, she 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 12th in the country and 1st in the Pac-12 with 2.67 goals/game
- USC is 16th in the NCAA, 1st in the Pac-12 with 2.65 assists/game
- USC's 7.83 pts/game are 13th 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.
- USC has outscored opponents 30-5 in the 2nd half and OT this year, as opposed to 18-13 in the 1st half.
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, but was bounced from the tourney 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.