Pruitt's Finish Propels the No. 7 Trojans Past No. 23 Utah 1-0 in the NCAA Tournament Round of 16|
Nov. 20, 2016
LOS ANGELES -- The No. 7 Trojans fought through a rainy, wet contest at McAlister Field, netting the eventual game-winning goal in the 73rd minute to defeat No. 23 Utah on Sunday afternoon to advance to the fourth round of the NCAA Tournament.
"First of all, a lot of credit goes to that Utah team. Not only did they make history (deepest tournament run in program history), but they also played very well today," said head coach Keidane McAlpine. They put us under a lot of pressure, but I thought we withstood it well and now we are sitting here because we gritted our way through that game. We took control of the tempo of the game for the most part and Leah [Pruitt] found a way to tap one in. It was a gutty win, a great game, in a great atmosphere and we are excited to move on."
Sophomore Leah Pruitt put the Trojans over the top in the 73rd minute, picking an excellent time for her fourth goal of the season. The play developed as Julia Bingham took a corner kick for the Trojans and it was headed back into the box by Nicole Molen. The ball bounced around in the box and Pruitt took a shot that was saved by the Utes' keeper July Mathias, but Pruitt with the hustle and desire put back her own rebound to finally help the Trojans break through the tough Utah defense.
After weathering early offensive advances by the Utes, including multiple dangerous corner kicks in the early goings of the first half, the Trojans were able to settle into the game. At the half, the Trojans outshot the Utes 9-2, but did not earn a corner kick to Utah's three. Utah's keeper Mathias made three saves in the first half, while USC's Sammy Jo Prudhomme made one.
In the second half, the Trojans dictated the tempo, pushing for that goal. They tallied nine shots in the second half, but the Utes fought hard, with six shots of their own, forcing Prudhomme to make four saves in the second half to Mathias' three. After Pruitt's go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute, the Trojans had to hold off the surging Utes, making sure to take care of the ball and mind the bounces on the wet, slippery turf, as it rained throughout the second half.
Overall the Trojans outshot the Utes 18-8 in the match, and each side tallied three corner kicks. Prudhomme and the Trojan defense led the team to its 14th shutout of the season.
The Trojans advance to the round of eight for just the second time in school history. The only other time it happened was in 2007, en route to the team's NCAA title.
The Trojans will remain and home and will host fourth-seeded Auburn, who dispatched of the top-seed Florida 3-1. The Elite Eight match is set for 1 p.m. PT on Friday, Nov. 25 at McAlister Field. Tickets are available at usctrojans.com/tickets.