The USC women’s soccer team opened Pac-12 conference play Friday by earning its first shutout of the season, as senior forward Samantha Johnson notched the game-winning goal in the 100th minute to defeat Washington 1-0.As they have all this season, the Women of Troy (4-4-1, 1-0) created plenty of chances against the Huskies (7-2-1, 0-1). USC outshot Washington 24-9 at McAlister Field, and had 10 corner kicks, including three in the 10-minute overtime period.But none managed to get past Washington goalkeeper Kari Davidson, who recorded seven saves, until Johnson’s shot with 11 seconds left in the first overtime period.“I was just hoping someone would get [a goal],” Johnson said. “I didn’t care who it was. We all just tried to work hard for each other.”A long throw-in from freshman defender Marlee Carrillo sent the ball into the box, where junior midfielder Elizabeth Eddy tapped it to Johnson, who unleashed a screaming blast from her right foot.Davidson got a hand on it, but she couldn’t stop the final strike from reaching the back of the net.It was Johnson’s second late game-winner in a week, after the senior scored with 15 seconds left on the road against San Diego last Friday for the win.“It was just a matter of time, I was hoping,” USC coach Ali Khosroshahin said. “But the way things have been going, I was also very fearful of giving one away.”Fortunately for USC, the defense held strong, bolstered by the returns of senior Kristina Noriega (concussion) and redshirt sophomore Mia Bruno (quad strain) to the starting lineup.“The experience and the composure we gained in the back with the two of them is huge,” Khosroshahin said. “It was a total team commitment of being aware of getting back [on defense] and not taking unnecessary risks in the back.”Noriega agreed with her coach. “We just came together and worked as a unit,” she said. “[Washington] had a little bit of speed up top but for the most part we handled it well.”USC sophomore goalkeeper Caroline Stanley was impressive, posting four key saves, but the Women of Troy dominated possession so well that the Huskies’ chances were few and far between.USC, on the other hand, had lots of opportunities to put the game away.Junior midfielder Jordan Marada slotted a dangerous pass to junior midfielder Haley Boysen in the 81st minute deep in the left side of the box, but Boysen’s attempt was blocked just before the goal line and cleared.A Washington handball in the 86th minute gave USC a golden opportunity right outside the box, but Johnson’s attempt of the ensuing free kick sailed just over the crossbar.A few minutes into overtime, Eddy passed to freshman forward Katie Johnson for an early look at the winner, but the Huskies managed another team save on the goal line.“We just kept talking about getting numbers forward and taking care of the ball,” Khosroshahin said. “Anytime you can get opportunities like that along with the run of play, it bodes well for your team.”Johnson said shutting out the Huskies in the home conference opener will do wonders for the confidence of the young Women of Troy, who don’t have another home match for almost a month.“It was really important only because our preseason was pretty rough,” Johnson said. “So we weren’t all that confident, but it’s good today because this actually brings up our confidence, so we’re ready to go on the road and get a few wins.”The Women of Troy visit Arizona State in Tempe on Friday for a 2 p.m. match before going to Tucson, Ariz., for a 1:30 p.m. clash on Sunday against Arizona.
Asante Kotoko striker Kofi Nti-Bokaye is a major doubt for Sunday’s Super Clash against Hearts of Oak.The 26-year-old is battling an unspecified illness with just two days to the big game at the Accra Sports Stadium.Coach Mas-Ud Dramani will wait on a report from the Kotoko medical team on Friday before taking a final decision on the striker.Nti-Boakye only returned to training on Monday after surviving a car crash a two weeks ago.His absence will be a major blow to the Premier League champions who are looking to get one over their arch rivals on Sunday.