Defending Champs Hold Off Lions
LMU tests #5 USC but comes away empty, 3-0
Sept. 26, 2008
Los Angeles - Facing their fourth ranked opponent of the season and second in three games, LMU came out strong against #5 USC but couldn't break through as the Trojans won 3-0 at McAlister Field in Los Angeles. The Lions (4-4-2) could not convert several scoring chances in falling to the defending NCAA champion Trojans (8-1-0).
The Lions started strong, with two corner kicks in the first five minutes of play. Juniors Lacey Bartels and Tiffany Harrison each found themselves open on headers, but neither could finish and the game remained scoreless. From there, the Trojans began to take control of play. By the end of the game they had 24 shots to only eight for the Lions. Junior Allyssa Clark played a stellar game in goal for LMU, with a career-high 10 saves.
Clark and the Lion defense were able to keep USC out of the goal for the first 26 minutes of the first half. The scoreless tie ended, however, in the 27th minute when Megan Ohai headed in her third goal of the season off a cross from Stacey Strong.
That was unlikely to be the last goal of the game for the Trojans, who had scored three or more goals in four straight games and were riding a 14-game home winning streak. Sure enough, 10 minutes later USC scored on a goal by Carly Butcher on a shot to the far left side of the net.
Going down two goals to a talented and experienced team like USC made it tough on LMU to make a comeback effort. Head Coach Joe Mallia commented, "At 1-0, they were putting some pressure on us but we were still creating some opportunities getting forward and maybe if you stick one in you never know what happens. Then they put a second one in and we were chasing the game."
The visitors had a few good opportunities coming out of the break to cut the lead in half. Five minutes into the half sophomores Lily Sorentino and Gabrielle Parisella linked up on a move down the right, with Sorentino sending a pass into the box to Bartels. Her shot was straight at USC goalkeeper Kristin Olsen, making one of her four saves on the day. About ten minutes later Sorentino turned in a solid individual effort down the right side, but once she wasn't able to put the ball in the back of the net.
From that point, the Trojans tightened up their defense and LMU would not get many more chances. Clark made a fantastic save in the 71st minute, facing a one-one and just getting her fingers on a shot by Nini Loucks to keep USC from getting its third goal. That save only stopped them temporarily, though, as Amy Rodriguez scored in the 87th minute to give USC three goals for its fifth straight game.
Still, Mallia was not displeased with his team after the game: "They competed, they competed really well and really hard. When we have that mentality, we're a good team."
Clark's 10 saves were one more than her previous career-high of nine, set on August 31 of this season against West Virginia and equaled last Friday at Oklahoma State. She leads the West Coast Conference in saves with 56, seven shy of entering the LMU top-10.
The Lions play their final week of the non-conference schedule next weekend, with two matches. They return home next Friday, October 3, to host Cal State Northridge at 4 p.m. before traveling south to San Diego State on Sunday for a noon kick-off.
- GO LIONS -