Women’s soccer rides defense to wins

first_imgThe Women of Troy hit the road this weekend as they continue their fight for dominance in the Pac-12.Julia Erickson | Daily TrojanLock it down · Senior goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme won her fourth Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week award and has 10 shutouts this year.Ranked No. 2 in the conference and No. 4 in the nation, the women’s soccer team is entering a critical three-game stretch to finish out a dominant season of conference play. The team first heads to Salt Lake City on Thursday to take on Utah, then travels to Boulder for a Sunday game against Colorado.For most of this season, Utah has been a solid middle-tier team, recovering from early pre-season losses to win steadily and sit tight in the middle of the Pac-12 rankings. After tying with Cal in double overtime last week, the team has proved that it can compete with the top dogs in the conference.The Buffs, meanwhile, are ranked third in the Pac-12. After a soft start to the season, they suffered another loss to Stanford last weekend before knocking off Cal 3-2 in double overtime. The Trojans will take on Colorado after the Buffs play against UCLA, a team ranked No. 9 in the country who provides stiff competition for stealing one of the top rankings in the conference, on Thursday.The bottom line is that dominance in the Pac-12 is completely up for grabs. At the top is USC, neck-and-neck with Stanford for the No. 1 ranking in the Pac-12  as the season comes to a close. And for USC head coach Keidane McAlpine, that makes this final weekend on the road even more important.“It’s that time of year,” McAlpine said. “All the games you have to show up and you have to play. The games are important for us because we’re still trying to peak [and] reach that next level.”This weekend’s games come after two more shutouts for the Trojans against Washington and Washington State, adding up to 10 on the season for redshirt senior goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme. After notching five saves over the weekend, Prudhomme earned her second-straight Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week award and her fourth of the season.Prudhomme’s performance alongside senior defender Mandy Freeman has pulled together a young defensive corps, turning a backline that struggled to connect at the season’s start into one of the most dominant defenses in the country.“The competition from here on out is just gonna get better,” McAlpine said. “Every game, there’s gonna be a moment when [Prudhomme] is gonna have to make a big save on top of some of the simple saves.”After this weekend, the Trojans will return home for one last stop — a rivalry matchup against UCLA that will decide the final rankings for the Pac-12. Then, it will be go-time for McAlpine and his team as they begin their journey in the NCAA tournament.last_img