It was never going to be easy.
With seven players who earned Pac-12 awards last year on the roster and one of the best freshmen recruiting classes in the nation, the Southern California Trojans showed why they are one of the nation’s best in front of a crowd of over 3,000 in the Banc of California Stadium, home of LAFC of Major League Soccer.
Florida lost 3-1 to No. 5 USC Thursday in Los Angeles. Despite the Gators having a similar number of shots (12 to 14), they were always the second-best team on the night. UF struggled to carve out good scoring chances, with most of their strikes coming from outside the box.
After an opening 30 minutes that leaned USC’s way, the Trojans capitalized on a free kick from the left of the Gators box.
Junior forward Tara McKeown pounced on the loose ball around the six yard box from the in-swinging set piece to put USC up 1-0.
After a potential handball in the box by Vanessa Kara went uncalled, the Trojans would draw blood again just six minutes later. Freshman midfielder Savianna Gomez fired off a shot from about twenty yards. Susi Esinoza saved, but parried the ball straight into the path of junior Arlie Jones, who slotted home the rebound to make it 2-0 USC.
Despite being outplayed in the first half, the Gators pierced the Trojan armor just before halftime. Kit Loferski fed the ball to senior midfielder Alex Stubblebine at the top of the box, and she released a shot that sailed into the back of the net, giving Florida hope going into the break.
No. 5 Southern Cal claims 3-1 win over 🐊⚽️ Thursday evening at Banc of California Stadium.
Senior @AlexStubblebine provides UF's goal – the first of her 🐊 career!
— Gators Soccer (@GatorsSoccer) August 30, 2019
However, USC came out in the second half looking like the stronger team once again. In the 59th minute, McKeown scored her fourth of the season and second of the night when she beat Espinoza with a near-post shot from the right side of the box.
The game slowly faded into full time from there, with the Gators having a few off-target attempts until the whistle blew.
Deanne Rose, the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week, looked industrious on the field but could not last the full 90. She was seen icing her left hamstring at the end of the game.
The Gators fall to 2-1 and will face No. 4 UCLA on Sunday. After opening the season with two shutout victories, the Bruins defeated No. 1 Florida State on Thursday to remain undefeated.