ASU women's soccer's Pac-12 struggles continue with loss to USC

ASU loses momentum in the second half following a crucial red card to one of their defenders

ASU (4-7-2, 1-3-1 Pac-12) was unable to keep an early lead and pull off an upset over No.7 USC women’s soccer (10-1-1, 4-0-1 Pac-12) at home, as the Trojans finished their Arizona road trip with a 2-1 victory on Sunday afternoon.

The Trojans had their backs against the wall in the first half after ASU’s junior forward Jemma Purfield scored in the ninth minute after a relay of passes from the right side of the field gave her room to shoot and score just inside the 18. It was her fourth goal of the season. 

“I knew they weren’t allowing me on my left foot. They figured out I am left footed, forcing me on the inside,” Purfield said. “A big space opened up, and I’m naturally right footed, so I can still hit with my right now and again, and luckily it went in.”

The Sun Devils kept the pressure on USC’s defense the entire first half, which consisted of eight total shots on target and a red card against USC redshirt freshman defender Dominique Randle. The Trojan’s redshirt freshman goalkeeper Kaylie Collins was able to alleviate some of the pressure put on by ASU’s forwards with four saves to keep the game within distance.  

The tables turned in the second half, however, as USC were the ones putting the pressure on ASU’s defensive line. The visitors were able to capitalize on an ASU red card in the 61st minute, junior defender Angela Boyle, which was immediately followed by a free kick goal by USC freshman forward Tara McKeown from the left side of the pitch, off the right post and into the back of the net. It was also her fourth goal of the season. 

ASU’s head coach Graham Winkworth said he was disappointed by the referee’s decision to hand out red cards to both teams, though he said he was proud of his team’s effort today.

“When it was 11 versus 11 and a good game of soccer, I believe we were in control of the match,” Winkworth said after the game. “Some decisions were made to eject two players, not make it about the players, and then the game changed completely." 

The Trojans kept the pressure on when USC redshirt senior midfielder Amanda Rooney scored in the 75th minute, giving her team the 2-1 lead over the Sun Devils. Rooney found herself open on the left of the inside of the penalty box after a couple of quick passes collapsed the ASU defense and fired into the top right of the net. 

A lack of offensive prowess was not the issue for the Sun Devils, as they finished with 17 shots on target compared to USC’s 13. What made the difference, however, was a consistent performance from USC’s goalkeeper, Collin. She finished the match with eight saves, three game saving ones in the last five minutes of the match. ASU’s redshirt senior goalkeeper Megan Delaney finished the match with four pivotal saves of her own. 

"They move the ball really well, and they had a little more pep in their step (in the second half),” Delaney said. “It is unfortunate to be on the losing side of it, but we are going to take this and carry it on unto Oregon and hopefully get a result out there.”

Reach the reporter at or follow @felipecorraljr on Twitter.  

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