It's One Moment, One Now for 2015 USC Women's Soccer|
Aug. 20, 2015
#1M1N. This hashtag has been used on USC women's soccer official Twitter account (@usc_wsoccer) throughout the past month and stands for "One Moment, One Now." This "live-in-the-moment" concept is the mantra of the 2015 Trojans who have some high expectations for themselves after a 2014 season where they made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010.
Second-year head coach Keidane McAlpine had a big hand in the creation of this year's focus.
"We have talked about being more focused in the moment. I thought last year the weight of trying to get back to the NCAA Tournament and always looking ahead to the next game was a little bit much for us. Therefore we are trying to lock this team in on each moment and each situation, both inside and outside of practice. Having each player on our team being committed to being focused and `in,' that's what it's all about," explained McAlpine.
McAlpine brings back his entire staff, elevating assistant coach Jen Klein to associate head coach in the offseason, in addition to returning assistant Jason Lockhart and director of operations Carla Hayden. Consistency is key to this year's group, which returns nine starters from last season and adds strong reinforcements in college transfers Sammy Jo Prudhomme, Morgan Andrews and Amanda Rooney. Six true freshmen also join the fold of 20 returners, led by impact defender Ally Prisock. The excitement around the program has turned heads both within the conference, where it was picked to tie for third in the Pac-12 and nationally, where the squad's ranked 23rd nationally in TopDrawerSoccer's preseason poll.
"The biggest thing that I've seen is we're a lot better than we were a year ago. I think a lot of that is just getting comfortable with the new staff, what we're trying to do and where we are trying to go," explained McAlpine. They know the terminology and the 16 upperclassmen have done a good job of coming back and continuing to grow from the things we worked on last fall into the spring. We are moving through training a lot quicker and that's exciting. I think our talent level is up. It's a matter of getting our chemistry and understanding more in sync. I'm excited, it's going to be a good year," exclaimed McAlpine.
Trojan fans will see a new goalkeeper in 2015, as three-year starter Caroline Stanley graduated and is currently competing for the Seattle Reign of the National Women's Soccer League. Fortunately, the Trojans have a good one waiting in the wings, as redshirt junior Sammy Jo Prudhomme has patiently sat out the last season after transferring within conference from Oregon State last year. Prudomme, a Pac-12 All-Freshman team honoree in 2012 made 188 saves for the Beavers in just two seasons. Senior Faith Sugerman and sophomore Julia Murphy round out the goalkeeping core and the group has had competitive sessions all camp.
Our goalkeeping core is really, really solid. Sammy Jo, being a transfer, comes in with a wealth of experience, McAlpine said. " But I think Faith and Julia are right there, so we have a nice little battle going on. The position is more solidified top to bottom which is very exciting."
The Trojans return the entire back line with Whitney Pitalo, Dominique Randle and the highly-decorated Kayla Mills, who earned All-Pac-12 and NSCAA West Region honors in 2014, as well as being named the No. 15 player nationally by TopDrawerSoccer. Joining the strong core is freshman Ally Prisock, who entered school a semester early and was able to hit the ground running this fall. Redshirt freshman Abigail Callahan also adds more depth in the back, along with U.S. Youth National team alum Mandy Freeman, who is being transitioned to the midfield, but can still play in the back.
Freeman will anchor the midfield, along with highly-touted transfers Morgan Andrews (Notre Dame) and Amanda Rooney (North Carolina). Returning veterans Erin Owen, Jamie Fink and Dana Schwartz, along with rising sophomore Nicole Molen provide an outstanding midfield for Troy.
"The talent level, the experience, the technical ability that the group possesses provides great depth along with Dana, Erin, Fink and Molen. We have a great group of talented players to play through the middle," said McAlpine.
Fink, a three-year starter and leader is an incredibly intriguing player for the Trojans because of her versatility.
"We have so much wealth in our midfield, we are going to move some people forward to the front line," explained McAlpine.
One big hole that the Trojans will have to fill is the loss of 2014 leading scorer Alex Quincey's 10 goals. Fink was tied for second on the team with six goals and McAlpine hopes she can find the back of the net more often this season.
"Fink is going to be that transition player, whether, the up top or in the midfield," explained McAlpine. "She has come back really focused. She has a better understanding of what we're looking for, is taking a few more risks and is looking to score and be a lot more dangerous offensively. I am hopeful that as we continue through camp she will be a player that will light the scoreboard a few more times than she was able to last year."
Those joining Fink at striker this season to fill the void left by Quincey are redshirt junior Reilly Parker, seniors Tamara Mejia and Natalie Donaldson, sophomore Sydney Sladek and freshman Olga Langenskiöld.
"Reilly and Tamara are two crazy, crazy athletic people that we will expect a lot out of this year," said McAlpine. Olga is going to be good long term. I think right now she is still transitioning to the American physicality and tempo, but she is very intelligent with her movement. We have a good core."
This year the Trojans will be tested right away, with four of their first five games against teams in the preseason top 25. Overall, 12 of the Trojans' 21 regular season games come against teams ranked in preseason top 40.
On the tough schedule, McAlpine said, "We talk about taking baby steps and having experiences together. I feel like our biggest step last year was learning how to win. Now that we have that experience, we have more confidence and have upgraded our talent. The schedule is going to challenge us in a way to let us know early where we stand. To start the slate with Texas Tech, Florida State, North Carolina and Duke, it will challenge us in a way to prepare us for our conference. It will let us know what things we have to fix so we can be great in the conference."
To get through the tough slate, this year's squad is anchored by an upper class leadership group of Pitalo, Freeman, Fink, Prudhomme and Savannah Levin. The team has been following the direction of this peer-selected group throughout summer training, and McAlpine is impressed with the toughness and accountability the team returned to camp with.
"It was fantastic that the team came back early, and this leadership group put them through the paces. I have no idea what they did," chuckled McAlpine. "But you can tell there is a culture shift within our team. It starts with each and every member of the team holding one another accountable. I truly believe this team is capable of incredible things and it starts with the leadership. They are going to hold the team accountable and keep us moving in the right direction."
"One Moment, One Now". This is the Trojans moment, and the sky is the limit if they keep their "live in the moment mentality," which starts with game one on Friday, August 21 at 4 p.m. PT vs. Texas Tech.