The journey to the NCAA Division I Women's Soccer College Cup continues Friday in a second-round matchup between the No. 9 USC Trojans and No. 22 Texas A&M.
Friday’s matchup will be the first meeting between Texas A&M and USC since 2016, in which they met in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The teams played to a draw through regulation and overtime, but USC came out victorious during the penalty shootout, 4-3. USC went on to defeat Utah, Auburn, Georgetown and West Virginia en route to winning the National Championship that season.
The first round featured dominant victories for both squads.
A&M hosted in-state rival Texas at Ellis Field, securing a 4-1 victory in its final home game of the season. Senior midfielder Grace Piper's performance for the Aggies, in which she tallied a goal and assist, earned her National Team of the Week honors by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
On the flipside, forward Penelope Hocking had a historic performance for USC as the Trojans cruised past Cal State, Fullerton with a final score of 5-1. Hocking's four goals equaled a USC record for goals in a match, while her additional assist secured her the USC record for most points in a match with nine. As well, teammate Alea Hyatt matched the USC assists record in a game by tallying three.
The Aggies have not looked as dominant on the road as they appear to be at home. They are 5-3-1 on the road compared to 9-2-1 at home. The revered offense that boasts both the SEC forward and midfielder of the year, Ally Watt and Jimena Lopez, averages less than half the offensive output on the road. A&M averaged 3.08 goals at home, but averaged 1.44 goals per game at away and neutral sites this season. Even within SEC play, despite having a better record on the road (4-1) due to playing the bottom three SEC West teams, their average goals scored is 1.8 compared to three at home.
Although USC finished third in the PAC 12, they lost to each of the other four teams that make up the top five. However, the Trojans dominated non-conference play by going 8-0-1 this season. They are undefeated in non-conference games in the state of California, notably beating both Florida and No. 6 Florida State.
USC's home field and home state advantage will prove a challenge for A&M, who look to improve on last year's round of 16 tournament elimination. A National Championship is the only trophy missing from A&M coach G Guerrieri's illustrious tenure at A&M, and the Aggies will get their next chance at going the distance on Friday.
The winner of this A&M-USC matchup will face either No. 20 Santa Clara or No. 13 Oklahoma State in the round of 16.