These days are days of hope for USC Athletics. Hope that Ed Orgeron can send the Trojans on a white-hot winning streak. Hope that championship teams can repeat. Hope that being on top now will lead to success in the NCAA tournament. Hope that a hard-fought road trip can lead to success at home. All the fall teams at USC enter this weekend with a lot of things to be positive about.
After defeating Florida Atlantic 2-0 on Sept. 19, the women's soccer team went on a four-game losing streak, with three of those games being shutout defeats by Pac-12 opponents. With their hot start turning into a losing record and a last-place standing in the Pac-12, SC was desperate for a turnaround. As it turned out, they got just that during their Bay Area road series this past weekend against two top-10 opponents. First, the Women of Troy took on #8 Cal, with the Bears pulling out early on a 27th minute goal. But in the second half, USC finally ended their offensive drought, taking control of possession for much of the latter 45 and finally scoring in the 78th minute via a goal by Alex Quincey. The junior midfielder picked up a defensive clearance by Cal and sent a rocket shot in to the left side, becoming the first Trojan to score in 454 consecutive minutes of play. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.
Two days later, USC took on an even tougher opponent in #5 Stanford, and turned in their most well-rounded performance of the season. Quincey was once again the star, knocking in a goal in the 59th minute via a corner kick from Kayla Mills. Stanford came back hard, outshooting SC 15-8. But USC's back line held together, and Caroline Stanley made eight saves as keeper. USC held on for the 1-0 upset and their first victory over the Cardinal in eight years.
Now USC returns home for a Friday afternoon tilt with Arizona; but this game comes with a little twist:
Breaking News: Our match against Arizona has been relocated to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Friday, 3 p.m.)— USC Trojan Fútbol (@USCFutbol) October 16, 2013
USC is now 6-6-2 (1-3-1), while the Wildcats are 6-5-3 (1-4-0). The game will be aired on Pac-12 network.
Meanwhile, the women's volleyball team is flying high as it tries to hold on to its #1 ranking for a third week. USC claimed the top ranking by defeating top-10 rival Stanford in straight sets at Galen Center, and then defended it in a tough struggle against upstart Cal. The Women of Troy held on in a five-set nail-biter, winning the last set by the two-point minimum. Meanwhile, Washington was upset by Colorado, allowing SC to seize the conference and national lead from them. The Pac-12 gave USC all of its player of the week honors following the Cal victory. Middle block Alexis Olgard took offensive POTW honors, libero Natalie Hagglund was defensive POTW, and outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu took freshman POTW.
After sweeping Oregon and Oregon State last weekend, USC now has a 16-1 record and a 10-game winning streak. Next up are two road games against Arizona State and Arizona. If they win the next two matches, USC will have its best record since 2003, when they went on to win the NCAA title. Hagglund is on track to break the school record for most career digs, while sophomore Samantha Bricio leads the NCAA in service aces with 44.
Finally, men's water polo avenged its sole defeat of the season when they faced off against UCLA in the finals of the SoCal Tournament at UC Irvine. Just like last year's national championship game between the crosstown rivals, the Bruins had the lead for much of the match. But with four minutes to go in the game and trailing 10-7, the Trojans scored three consecutive goals in two-and-a-half minutes to tie up the game. UCLA made one more goal in the final minute, but then junior Kostas Genidounias fired in a buzzer beater goal to force the game into overtime. Genidounias then scored another goal in OT while keeper James Clark held the Bruins scoreless. USC won 12-11, giving them the top ranking in the nation once again.
But the Trojans and Bruins aren't done with each other yet. They will face off on Nov. 21 in Westwood in an MPSF regular-season match. For now, USC looks forward to a Saturday doubleheader at 1 P.M. against LMU and Cal Lutheran.
So there you have it. Two teams are now on top, and another is trying to move up the ranks. Meanwhile, the Trojans and Irish are set to face off in a match that may not have national implications, but offer a win that could drastically change the trajectory of either team. To get you pumped up, here's a video of the USC band's first visit to South Bend 40 years ago.