USC wins dramatic NCAA women’s soccer championship
Sixty-four teams started in the NCAA DI Women’s soccer tournament three weeks ago, leading to an exciting College Cup, which includes the final four teams of the tournament. The semi-final games were thrillling with Georgetown taking on the University of Southern California and North Carolina battling West Virginia. Both games were one goal games, with the goals being scored in the later minutes, making for exciting soccer.
In the first game, the No. 7 USC Trojans took down No. 5 Georgetown with a 60th minute goal from Katie Johnson. The Hoyas and Trojans matched closely with each other, with the Georgetown outshooting USC five to two. Redshirt senior Sammy Jo Prudhomme, the PAC-12 Goalkeeper of the Year, made several crucial saves, including a big one off a corner kick in the 50th minute of the game. The Trojans took control on the attacking side of things, and ten minutes later scored off of a loose ball in the box, passing it around from Leah Pruitt to Morgan Andrews, who passed it to Johnson in the box. Johnson received it and notched a goal to put the Trojans up. This is the first time the Trojans have reached the College Cup in nine years and the second National Championship they have played in since winning in 2007.
In the second semi-final, No. 1 ranked West Virginia took down No. 6 ranked North Carolina, who has been a soccer powerhouse, going to all 35 NCAA tournaments and winning 22 of them. This is the first time in program history that the Mountaineers have been to the College Cup.
The championship game was a physical one with the 17-4-2 Trojans beating the 23-1-2 Mountaineers, who had a 16-match unbeaten streak. The Trojans took an early lead, when Morgan Andrews scored off a header 82 seconds into the match, notching her 10th goal of the season. But, the Mountaineers dominated play in the first half after, however they were unable to put the ball in the back of the net. At half, they led 10 to three in shots, four to one on goal.
In the second half, the Mountaineers sustained their heavy pressure on the Trojans, which paid off when midfielder Ashley Lawrence scored from the edge of the box, sliding it past Prudhomme with thirty minutes left in the game. WVU kept up the pressure, looking to put another goal in, but USC took advantage of the high pressure with a goal on a fast break from Pruitt, who drew two defenders to her, and then passed it off to Johnson, who tucked it away. At the 81st minute, the Mountaineers took a point blank shot, but Prudhomme came up with a big save, which changed the momentum of the game. With three minutes left in the game, Johnson netted an insurance goal, chipping it over Foster to make it 3-1, and securing the Trojans’ their second National Championship in program history. The final stats were in favor of the Mountaineers, who shot 21 times and had nine fouls to the Trojans’ eight shots and 11 fouls, including two yellow cards. But, the Trojans proved that in the beautiful game of soccer, stats don’t always matter and the team who puts the ball in the net the most will always win the game.