In a thrilling NCAA Tournament first-round matchup, defending national champion USC beat Eastern Washington University 2-1 on Nov. 11 at McAlister Field.
EWU put USC, a three seed in the tournament, on edge early on with a goal from Chloe Williams in the sixth minute. The Eagles held onto their 1-0 lead into halftime.
But USC scored just as quick in the second half with a goal from redshirt-senior Alex Anthony in the 51st minute, tying the game at one. With a tied score at the end of regulation, the Trojans and Eagles headed into a nail-biting golden goal overtime.
While USC had three shots in the first 10-minute overtime period, neither team was able to put away a goal, forcing a second overtime period.
Just 18 seconds into the second overtime, Junior Erika Okuma found the back of the net, ending the game and sealing the victory for the Trojans.
"We've been able to find ways to come back and win games, and I've said it all year that I think our competitive spirit is very good," Head Coach McAlpine said after the game. "We found a way to win on a day when it wasn't our best performance. Far from it."
This USC team is familiar with the pressure of chasing a national title, having just won last year. USC women's soccer also holds the championship title from the 2007 season.
In preparation for their second-round game, McAlpine said, "We have to go back to what we've been able to do for a large part of the season… we have to be a lot more focused to start games and our shots on goal percentage has to be a lot better. That will definitely be our focus over the next three days."
The Trojans will head to College State, Texas, to play Baylor in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Kick off is Saturday at 1:30 p.m.