In a game plagued by miscues and missed opportunities, USC fell 20-9 against Arizona State Friday at McAlister Field, snapping the Trojans’ eight-game home win streak.
The Trojans took 40 shots on the day — six more than their competitor — but were only able to convert on seven. It was a different story for the Sun Devils, who managed to put up 20 goals against a tough USC defense.
“ASU is a great team,” head coach Lindsey Munday said after the game. “They came out and they wanted it today. They played a really great game. I think they did some really nice things, but at the end of the day, we need to look in the mirror and make adjustments and be ready to get better.”
Arizona State came out firing early. It opened up the scoring less than 30 seconds into the game, but the Trojans responded quickly with two goals. The teams traded leads until the 20:59 mark, when Munday called a timeout with her team down 4-2.
There was hope for the Trojans, as graduate attacker Maddie McDaniel came out of the timeout with a draw control and goal to bring the Trojans within one.
But once again, Arizona State had an answer.
Graduate attacker Carley Adams scored her first goal of the game on a free-position shot just 20 seconds after McDaniel’s goal. Two of the next three goals went to the Trojans to bring the score to 6-5, but from there, the Sun Devils did not look back.
Beginning at the 11:11 mark of the first half, Arizona State went on a 6-1 run to bring the halftime score to 11-6.
Adams went on to tally five goals and one assist on the day, but graduate attacker Kerri Clayton was the star for the Sun Devils.
Clayton put up an impressive six goals, five assists and three ground balls. Her 11 points nearly beat the Trojans’ nine goals and three assists.
Adams and Clayton proved to be too much for USC, which allowed its opponents to score an average of 11 goals in its first five games.
“They’re both really solid players and we just needed to be more aware of [Clayton and Adams],” Munday said. “They’re both really strong, on feeding and on their cuts mainly is where we got in trouble. So we just have to be better off the ball and be ready to stop top players on any team.”
The Trojans have been performing well in the second half this season, but USC could not find its rhythm Friday between poor shooting and defensive errors. Arizona State started the second half with two goals in two minutes, part of a 9-3 run throughout the rest of the game.
The Trojans had opportunities on attack to crawl back into the game but were unable to make a significant dent in the lead at any point.
Despite taking just one fewer shot than its season high of 41, USC fell well below its average of 13.8 goals a game. Senior midfielder Kelsey Huff led the Trojans on the day with three goals but only shot 27%.
Munday says her players did not control themselves enough on the attacking end and took any shot instead of the right shot.
“We took a lot of shots, but some were not great angles and I don’t think they were the highest quality shots,” Munday said. “So we just need to be a little more disciplined on our decision making.”
The Trojans have a quick turnaround as they welcome Fresno State Sunday at noon.
“We have to look in the mirror and a big part of the change is mental,” Munday said. “And so we need to individually and collectively as a group have some conversations and look in the mirror and figure out the mental side of the game before we can figure out the rest.”