Matadors draw even with Trojans

Casey Delich

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Freshman forward Lyndsey Preston dribbles past a USC defender Sunday. Photo Credit: Virginia Ibarra / Contributor

The Matadors battled to a 1-1 draw with USC on Sunday night for their second double-overtime game in three days.

Making their first visit to Matador Field, USC (2-3-1) brought a 3-0 record against the Matadors (3-1-3) into the match, but the teams had not faced each other since 1998.

From the first whistle, the Matadors were on a mission to score first, using a fast-paced offense in an attempt to stifle USC’s defense. Despite their constant push, the Matadors were unable to put a shot on goal until the 64th minute, USC outshooting the Matadors 24-10, including 10-2 shots on goal.

Unable to muster any offense, it became another defensive masterpiece, fending off multiple USC attacks in the first half.

“We didn’t feel any pressure from USC tonight,” said senior defender Stephanie Norton. “They have really great speed up top, but I think we did a great job as a back line staying as a unit.”

Senior goalkeeper Cynthia Jacobo finished the first half with four saves, none giving her much trouble. Jacobo finished with 15 saves — one shy of the school record. Her previous best was 10 saves, which was Friday against against Tennessee.

“She’s stepping up and making plays, we are happy she is on our side and not someone else’s,” said head coach Keith West, about Jacobo’s play on the season.

The effects of Friday’s double-overtime game and a physical first half looked like it was taking its toll on the Matadors in the second half.

“We were pressing hard, it was just us stepping back and surviving their attacks until the end of the second half,” said redshirt sophomore forward Brittanie Sakajian.

Sakajian scored the Matadors’ first goal in two games, in the 72nd minute, with an assist from Norton and senior forward Melissa Fernandez on a left cross from a throw-in.  It was Sakajian’s first goal since 2010, having missed the 2011 season with a knee injury.

“I just saw the ball coming and knew the run, honestly closed my eyes and said please go in,” Sakajian said.

The celebration wouldn’t last long for the Matadors though, with a goal by USC senior midfielder Samantha Johnson that rolled under a diving Jacobo into the lower right corner, less than two minutes later.

Neither team could muster anything else throughout the end of regulation and both overtime periods, with the Matadors never getting another shot on goal.

“We didn’t change anything throughout the game on offense, and just stuck to our game plan,” West said. “I’m proud of the girls, they were all working on tired legs.”

An already physical game seemed to get more so in the overtime periods, with some hits laying out players on the ground.  USC was issued three yellow cards throughout the game and none to the Matadors.

Senior forward Marisa Miller was taken off the field by the training staff in the first half, and never returned to action.

“She has a bump on her leg and I don’t know about her status for the next game,” West said.