Trojans pick up conference win in shutout over Ducks

USC is a perfect 3-0 at home in 2021.

Big saves, corner kick connections and USC junior defender Kaylin Martin’s lone goal in the first half were enough for the Trojans to take down the No. 20 Oregon Ducks on Sunday. The No. 13 Women of Troy advance to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference.

In the 12th minute, after dribbling down the field, senior midfielder Savannah DeMelo earned a corner kick and served a perfect ball that found Martin. At 5 foot 9, Martin used her height to reach over two Oregon defenders and head the ball past freshman goalkeeper Leah Freeman.

“Kaylin is extremely good heading the ball for us,” head coach Keidane McAlpine said postgame. “We try to put her in spots where she can have those moments and today we finally got the service right, and she got her timing right.”

The goal was key for McAlpine’s team, as it allowed the Trojans to control the tempo.

After several midfield takeaways from both sides, the Ducks earned two corners late in the first half, giving them the opportunity to tie the game before the half, but both attempts came up empty.

The Trojan defense held the Ducks to just one shot on goal in the first half.

The second half was a battle of the goalkeepers, with both teams putting up five shots —  two of them on goal. USC redshirt senior Kaylie Collins, who came in for the second half after junior Anna Smith protected the net in the first, made two key saves to shut Oregon down. USC senior forward Tara McKeown and DeMelo both had shots on goal that nearly added to their lead, but Freeman’s saves kept the Ducks’ deficit to one.

Despite her efforts, though, the Ducks were unable to find the equalizer, and the Trojans picked up the victory on a quick turnaround after defeating Oregon State Friday. McAlpine said it wasn’t the team’s best day, but it was good considering it was their first two-game weekend.

“A lot of players had to battle through after playing some heavy minutes on Friday,” he said. “But I thought we did a really good job of just finding a way to get through the game, making it one where we took away their opportunities to get to the goal.”

Along with DeMelo, sophomore midfielder Croix Bethune had a solid game with a shot on goal and several defensive takeaways.

Freshman defender Zoe Burns also had a standout game, as she made her presence known by coming up with takeaways and finding her teammates.

McAlpine said he is excited to see what the future holds for the young Burns.

“She’s just one of those players that you know is going to do the work,” he said. “Every game that she gets is gonna provide her more and more experience and recognition moments, and then she’s just gonna get better and better.”

The Women of Troy will hit the road next as they look to pick up another win against Utah on Friday at 4 p.m.

“We’re gonna have to be better in our possession to break them down and give ourselves a chance to put one in,” McAlpine said.