Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor
On Sunday the USC women's soccer team will face the Oregon State Beavers in their final home game of the season. For senior Autumn Altamirano, this will be her last chance to perform in front of a home crowd.
"We're going to come out fired up," declared Altamirano. "I'm playing for my teammates on Sunday. I'm going to miss them all so much. The girls are like sisters to me and the coaching staff is like family. I'm an only child so the bonds and friendships I've formed through my time on the soccer team here at USC have meant so much to me."
Altamirano has certainly left her mark on the USC women's soccer program as she has done whatever was asked of her since she arrived on campus. She was recruited as a midfielder but struggled throughout her freshman season to find the right fit.
"I came in as a new freshman not knowing what to expect and really not knowing how college girls played...I started my freshman year and completely tanked it. I was put in so many different positions and it just didn't go very well," said the modest senior.
Altamirano was just being hard on herself as she made an immediate impact as a freshman, appearing in all 22 games and starting five. She finished the season with five goals, which was the second-best on the team. Two of those five goals were game-winning goals proving that even as a freshman she had the confidence and composure to perform under pressure.
Her sophomore season marked the beginning of what would be a tremendous soccer career as a defender for the Trojans as injuries in the backfield caused coaches to move Altamirano to the defense. She hasn't played another position since yet she still has managed to score a goal in each of the last two seasons.
The clutch senior will have a lot of emotions as she heads into her final home game on Sunday; however, she says it's not going to impact her performance on the field.
"It's pretty hard considering it's my last and final home game, but at the same time it is also really exciting because I get to share it with my teammates. They are going to be what I miss the most. I'm playing for them this weekend, not for anything else."
Don't expect the selfless senior to be poised after the game, however, as she said there are going to be a lot of emotions in the locker room. "I'm going to lose it afterwards regardless of what happens in the game. I'm normally really good at controlling my emotions so during the game I'll be fine but afterwards is going to be rough for sure."
This season hasn't necessarily gone the Trojans way as they started off red-hot, ranked for the first time since the start of the 2011 season. Things looked promising as the Trojans scored 12 goals in their first three games; however, it took them 453 minutes to score again, a stretch that began on September 22nd and was finally snapped on October 11th.
"The one thing I've tried to instill in the young players this season is to never give up. This season hasn't gone our way but you still never give up. You go out and put your all into everything you do and you do it for your teammates. I think that's one thing the girls will take away," said the senior leader.
So what does life look like for Altamirano without soccer? Well, the senior psychology major, who has been named Pac-12 Academic All-American honorable mention twice, wants to eventually work as a criminal profiler for the FBI but hasn't given up on soccer just yet.
"I don't really know what I'm going to do yet. I really want to go to grad school but I'm still trying to decide if I want to keep playing soccer. I'm considering going overseas to play which I would really enjoy because I love to travel."
Just in case those plans don't work out you can witness Altamirano in action for the last time on Sunday against a tough Oregon State team. The game will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Network and all five seniors will be honored as the game has been declared Senior Day for the Women of Troy. Make sure to come out and support the seniors and USC women's soccer at 11:00am on McAlister Field.