Hocking ties career scoring record in USC’s win over Arizona

A dominant second-half performance led USC to a blowout win over the Wildcats.

A photo of USC senior forward Penelope Hocking in a white uniform trying to dribble past an Oregon State defender in an orange uniform.

The No. 21 USC women’s soccer team extended its winning streak to eight games in a 4-1 victory over the Arizona Wildcats on Sunday in Tucson. Senior forward Penelope Hocking made the match one to remember as she tied USC’s record for career goals early in the first half.

Much like the first few matches of the season were a struggle for USC, the first few minutes of the game were poorly executed by the Trojans. The Wildcats started fast on offense with two shots in the first 10 minutes, and sophomore defender Jenna Studer scored in the 11th minute to put Arizona up 1-0.

“Unfortunately, we had another slow start,” head coach Keidane McAlpine said after the game. “It took us a little while to figure out what they were doing, but once we figured out what they were doing, we became a little bit more aggressive.”

Soon after Arizona’s score, Hocking broke through for a ricochet goal in the 19th minute to tie the game at 1-1. The goal was Hocking’s 48th collegiate score and tied the record for most career goals by a USC Trojan — and her senior season is nowhere near finished.

“She’s always dangerous,” McAlpine said. “She’s always a person that puts herself in great positions.”

Hocking now shares the record with Isabelle Harvey, who played for USC from 1996-2000. Harvey was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year in 1998 and remains the only USC women’s soccer player to ever earn All-America honors in all four seasons.

USC’s defense also found a rhythm as the first half went on to prevent Arizona from taking any more shots before the break. A pair of saves on the day from senior Anna Smith helped the stifling defensive effort.

The Trojans started the second half with an enormous amount of pressure in the attacking third. An early shot on goal from redshirt senior midfielder Savannah DeMelo required Arizona junior goalkeeper Hope Hisey to make an athletic save to preserve the score at 1-1.

USC’s offense continued the pressure through the end of the match. The team posted 23 total shots and dominated possession throughout the second half.

Despite taking so many shots, USC could not manage a second half goal until the 69th minute. After redshirt senior Jada Talley scored the go-ahead goal against her former team, Arizona’s defensive floodgates opened and USC found the back of the net two more times.

Junior midfielder Jaelyn Eisenhart scored the team’s third goal of the day on a perfect shot that was placed just out of the goalkeeper’s reach and into the top right corner of the net. Junior midfielder Croix Bethune continued the onslaught in the 84th minute with a goal off a pass from freshman midfielder Simi Awujo that split three defenders. USC finished the game with a definitive score of 4-1.

“We had some special goals,” McAlpine said. “Jaelyn Eisenhart’s goal was absolutely fantastic, and it was great to see Jada get on the board, returning back to Arizona.”

The win moved USC to the top of the Pac-12 standings with a conference record of 3-0 and an overall record of 8-2. It also marked USC’s eighth consecutive victory over the Wildcats as Arizona fell to 0-3 in Pac-12 play.

The Trojans return home to face the Colorado Buffaloes on Thursday at 4 p.m., when Hocking will have a chance to further etch her name into USC’s history books.