The USC women’s soccer team started their 2015 season with a bang; despite walking away from the past weekend with both a win and a loss, they effectively made a bold statement.By defeating preseason-ranked No. 15 Texas Tech on Friday and keeping a close match against defending national champions and top-ranked Florida State on Sunday, the Women of Troy set a precedent for the rest of the season.This Friday, USC will venture off Trojan grounds to take on the UC Riverside Highlanders (1-1) for their third game and second win of the Fall 2015 season.The team hopes to continue its momentum and lead into this game with the buoyancy that rightfully defines it.Senior forward Jamie Fink, a strong voice both on and off the field for USC, agrees that success through such a competitively demanding weekend sparked both confidence and drive that will keep the team on their toes and ready for anything that may come their way this season.“It showed that we’re not going to give up, and we’re going to fight,” Fink said. “All it’s going to take is that extra ‘umph’ and that desire and heart. That is going to help us throughout the upcoming season.”A tough battle not only requires a firm punch, but a sense of protection as well. The Women of Troy exemplified that having a strong defensive unit is crucial when going head-to-head with challenging teams.“We’ve been focusing on our defensive tactics; they are setting the tone right now for our offensive,” Fink said.Going off of Fink’s notion of interdependence, head coach Keidane McAlpine agreed that USC’s success stems from the combined camaraderie of every individual representing the Cardinal and Gold.“It begins with our forwards, it begins with the total team defending,” McAlpine said. “It’s just the unity throughout the lines, and in that back line — in the mission, the cause, the detail work — that has paid off so far.”After having to sit out last season due to her in-conference transfer from Oregon State, goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme is now in charge of covering the last line of defense for the Trojans.After a shutout this past weekend against Texas Tech, spectators eagerly look forward to seeing more of her guiding performances throughout both the duration of the season and in-game versus the Highlanders this weekend.“I know they are a tough team and have a high-pressure style of play,” Prudhomme said. “It will be a lot on our defense to make sure we are constantly focused and on our game.”McAlpine shows the utmost certainty that Prudhomme and her backline, as well as Fink and her attacking end, are both ready to march into Highlander territory with a sense of harmony and togetherness to secure a successful performance.”Some of the confidence and correcting some of the mistakes are some of the issues, but also trying to deepen the bench a little bit and add a few more players to the rotation,” McAlpine said. “I think that’s going to be important for our longevity.”Over the weekend, USC defense pulled through with 173 scoreless minutes. As difficult as it may seem to mirror such a noteworthy statistic, the Women of Troy do not by any means consider the task out of reach.“I think the best way to keep that up is to continue to play together,” Prudhomme said.With their trip to Albuquerque behind them, USC will travel to Riverside to continue their evolution as a solitary unit. While there, the Women of Troy, led by McAlpine, hope to progress and keep pushing forward.“My biggest hopes for the weekend are to continue to build on the momentum that we’ve gained playing two great opponents this past weekend,” McAlpine said. “Really just try to continue to grow, that’s the biggest goal out of the weekend.”A team bound by its season motto and comprised of resilient players, USC soccer advances on its journey.“I just want this team to have the utmost success and to conquer our goals, which are ‘one moment, one now,’ and to take it one game at a time,” Fink said.
Saido Berahino Tony Pulis believes West Brom’s fans have forgiven ‘naughty child’ Saido Berahino for wanting to leave.The boss insisted any rift between the striker and supporters has been healed following his return to the side.Berahino threatened to never play for the club again following two rejected deadline-day bids from Tottenham, while he also had a transfer request blocked in the summer.He scored the winner on his return to the starting line-up for the first time since asking to leave in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Aston Villa.The 22-year-old was rested in Wednesday’s 3-0 Capital One Cup defeat at Norwich but is expected to start at The Hawthorns against Everton on Monday and Pulis insisted he has been welcomed back.“They’ve been very good and very supportive and the great thing for me is the Saido situation,” he said.“I think Saido was concerned there might be a little turning of the tide but they were absolutely wonderful when he came on against Southampton and last Saturday against Villa.“They truly are in love with their football club and they want their football club to do well and Saido is a big part of that now.“They have embraced him and brought him back into the fold – that naughty child!“It’s good because it takes the pressure off him. It’s the biggest thing for the lads to take the pressure off.“The reaction of the supporters and players shows there’s good unity in the group. What we need to do now is for him to concentrate on playing football which is what he’s good at.”Pulis made 10 changes for the defeat at Carrow Road as he rested Gareth McAuley, Chris Brunt and Salomon Rondon after admitting they needed a break ahead of Everton’s visit. “Those players have had the opportunity to have an extra day off. On Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning we’ll really prepare,” he added. 1