USC upset at home by unranked Arizona

A sloppy game yields a disappointing result for the Trojans.

Senior midfielder Croix Bethune in a red jersey advancing with a soccer ball at McAllister Field.

Ranked No. 8 in the country and coming in on a four-game winning streak, the Trojans looked to keep riding high against unranked Arizona, who were still winless in conference. However, despite the beautiful weather at McAllister Field, the day was not so beautiful for the Trojans.

Despite the loss of key players junior defender Zoe Burns and sophomore midfielder Simi Awujo, who were away on national team duties, USC came into Thursday afternoon as the clear favorite. It was clear from the opening whistle, however, that the Wildcats were not going to just roll over.

After a decidedly sloppy first half full of fouls, cards and turnovers, neither team gained the upper hand. The second half seemed to bring some life to the game with the Trojans controlling possession and eventually had a chance to pull ahead with a penalty kick in the 66th minute.

USC’s College Soccer News Preseason All-American, senior midfielder Croix Bethune, took the kick. Bethune went to her left, and so did Arizona senior keeper Hope Hisey. In a full stretch, Hisey was able to deflect the ball wide of the post and out of play. The ensuing corner was then handled with ease by Hisey.

During the ensuing play the energy seemed to turn towards Arizona who would capitalize in the 68th minute with what can only be described as a hustle goal from junior forward Nicole Dallin. Junior midfielder Megan Chelf and sophomore midfielder Gianna Christiansen registered the assists.

The ball was lifted over the head of the USC back line, and Dallin beat the Trojan defender to the ball, chipping it up and over senior keeper Anna Smith for the goal. The goal put the Wildcats up for good.

After the game USC head coach Jane Alukonis said, “It came down a lot to work rate. They outplayed us.”

It seemed today that the will to win, and the luck manufactured by that hustle, was on the side of Arizona today. USC outshot the Wildcats 16-12. However, they only forced saves on five of those. Of those saves the penalty shot was the only one that gave any pause.

In the late stages of the match, the Trojans were unable to get anything going against an Arizona squad that was quite content with sitting on their one-goal advantage. In the closing seconds, the Trojans made one last charge, but their shot from out wide was handled neatly by Hisey who then drained the clock of its last remaining seconds for the Wildcat win. It was just a tough day for USC who just could not generate enough dangerous chances all day.

In spite of the loss, Alukonis and the Trojans still feel good about their chances to make their goal of a national championship.

“Every season that I’ve ever played at the college level has hiccups,” Alukonis said. “They aren’t fun, they aren’t good, but it’s the wake up call that you need. So our goal is still exactly the same.”

The Trojans will be in need of a quick turnaround however, as the 6-2-2 Arizona State Sun Devils will be in town on Sunday looking to avenge last year’s loss in Tempe.