August 19, 2011
Los Angeles, California
by Calvin Morris
It was a physical season opening match between the women’s soccer teams of USC and Long Beach State. To spectators accustomed to FIFA matches, the contest may have been more closely related to American football or mixed martial arts. For fans of NCAA women’s soccer, it was business as usual with the partisans only complaining about opposition fouls. In between the pushing, holding, collisions, knockdowns and strikes worthy of a kung fu master, there was some soccer played.
As expected in a season opener, neither team was particularly sharp. USC had a territorial edge and was more accurate in their shot attempts. USC’s apparent advantage may have been attributed to playing at their home turf at McAlister Field.. USC’s Haley Boysen scored first at 16:25 with a header set up by a Brittany Kerridge free kick. With approximately nine minutes remaining in the first half, Long Beach State responded with an improbable half-field free kick by Alex Balcer that eluded USC goalkeeper, Shelby Church.
The second half began with the teams tied 1-1 and there was no reduction in the physical intensity. Both defenses remained solid until Long Beach State’s Shawna Gordon steered the game-winning header into the USC goal at 4:16. The Women of Troy failed to score in the second half but it was not for lack of effort. Credit the 49er defense for securing the 2-1 victory.
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photo Cheltenham Racecourse