Redshirt senior striker Alex Anthony scored 1 of USC’s 2 goals in the Trojans’ first-round win against Eastern Washington. Photo by Matt Karatsu | Daily TrojanAfter an uneven come-from-behind win Saturday afternoon against Eastern Washington, the No. 9 women’s soccer team (15-3-1) will travel to College Station, Tex., to face No. 23 Baylor (14-5-2) in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Friday afternoon.The Women of Troy struggled against Big Sky champion Eastern Washington last week, taking two overtime periods to down the Eagles thanks to goals from junior forward Erika Okuma and redshirt senior forward Alex Anthony.Despite the win, the Trojans were expected to handle their first-round opponents with ease — USC cruised past Eastern Washington 3-1 in the first round of last season’s NCAA tournament — and the team will have to regroup ahead of its matchup against Baylor and change its mentality at the start of the game.“We got to flesh this one a little bit and go back to what we have been able to do for a large part of the season,” head coach Keidane McAlpine said. “We definitely have to be a lot more focused to start games, having our shot percentage be a lot better, and that will definitely be our focus [against Baylor].”USC will continue to rely on leading scorer Anthony to come up with the goals. Her score against Eastern Washington raised her tally to 9 this season, and she looks to continue spearheading the Trojan offense. She only scored 1 postseason goal during last year’s championship run, but it was a game-winning effort against Auburn in the quarterfinals.On the other side, Baylor comes off a 3-2 win over Rice in its first-round match. The game went back and forth, with both teams exchanging leads throughout the game. It was Rice that struck first in the 17th minute, but Baylor responded quickly. 2 goals in two minutes from senior defender Precious Akanyirige and senior midfielder Aline de Lima gave Baylor a 2-1 lead heading into halftime. A score by Rice in the 56th minute evened up the game once again, and it took until the 74th minute for Baylor to retake the lead. Sophomore forward Raegan Padgett netted the decisive goal, while junior forward Lauren Piercy provided the assist for all three Baylor goals.This season, the Bears are offensively led by de Lima, who has 7 goals and seven assists this season, and Piercy, who has 4 goals and three assists (all of her contributions have come off the bench). For the year, the team is averaging 19 shots per game — almost seven on target — and has scored 32 goals in 21 games.The Bears’ defense has also been impressive this season, only surrendering 13 goals and 8.8 shots per game. By comparison, USC’s defense has allowed 16 goals and 9.2 shots per game in 19 games this season.Baylor’s road to the NCAA playoff was a long and often unlikely one. Finishing fifth in the Big 12 regular season standings, the Bears were not expected to go far in the conference tournament. However, Baylor found its form in the tournament, overcoming No. 18 Texas in the first round, No. 17 Oklahoma State in the second round and TCU in the final to win the Big 12 championship. Baylor outscored its opponents 7-2 and outshot them 57-32 in the process. The Bears’ most impressive performance came against Oklahoma State — the Big 12 regular-season champions — when they outshot the Cowboys 23-5 and came away with a 3-0 win.The Trojans will look to slow down the streaking Bears on Friday at 1:30 p.m. A win against Baylor would see the Trojans advance to the third round on Sunday, awaiting a matchup against the winner of No. 6 Texas A&M vs. Notre Dame.
Welsh teenager Ethan Ampadu hit the headlines this week after Manchester United reportedly joined Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea in the race to sign him .But long before he gets the chance to choose between the Premier League big-guns, the 15-year-old Exeter City midfielder had an even bigger choice to make – between England and Wales.And after careful consideration, the son of former Swansea midfielder Kwame Ampadu chose Wales , the land of his mother’s birth.Why Wales?Having spent much of last summer at FA training camps and thriving, even attracting interest from Ghana , Ampadu was captain as Wales U16s gloriously retained the Victory Shield last November, a year after winning it for the first time in 66 years.The talented teen was then asked to jump up to the Wales U17 set-up for their UEFA Elite tournament campaign. After sitting out the qualifying rounds, the lure of the competitive tournament in Croatia was enough to make Ampadu effectively commit his international future to Wales.He joined his clubmate Max Smallcombe in David Hughes’ squad and travelled to Croatia lat month as an integral part of a group of full international hopefuls who are mostly two years older than him.How did he get on?Ampadu played 90 minutes in the 2-0 win over Croatia on March 16 and the 1-0 defeat against Portugal two days later but was replaced by Arsenal’s Robbie Burton with 17 minutes to go in the 1-0 defeat against Sweden on March 21. He was also booked in that game.Wales finished third in their group behind Portugal and Sweden but Ampadu came back with his reputation very much enhanced. What do his club think?Exeter City’s academy manager Simon Hayward said: “Ethan was handed a really difficult choice at such a young age but we have fully supported him and his family in making it.“He was treated really well by the FA and really enjoyed his time in the England camp but he really wanted to play for Wales at the tournament.“He is really grateful to the FA for the opportunity but he really enjoys being part of the Wales squad and hopefully he will keep developing. He’s got a lot of hard work in front of him.” What happens now?Having attracted the attention of some of the Premier League big-boys, it seems as though Ampadu has the world at his feet but his club and international coaches will be keen to keep them firmly on the ground, as will his father who is currently a coach at Arsenal.But he only has to look at Manchester United’s Regan Poole to see what can be achieved. Poole was in the Wales U17 setup last season before making the big move to Old Trafford last summer and making his first team debut in February.Other youngsters like Marcus Rashford, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson have also flourished under Louis Van Gaal this season and their reported interest could tempt Ampadu away from his father’s grasp at the Emirates.What certain is that Wales manager Chris Coleman will be keeping a close eye on his progress having seen him play several times and been briefed fully by his trusted lieutenant Osian Roberts, who made the exciting youngster the captain of his successful Wales U16 team. —