Julia Erickson | Daily TrojanAwards on lock · Senior midfielder and defender Savannah Levin was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week Tuesday.Returning home after a 2-0 win at Arizona State, the No. 5 women’s soccer team welcomes Washington State to McAlister Field on Thursday. The Women of Troy had their program-record 10-game winning streak halted against Cal two matches ago, but they rebounded with a clean shutout of Arizona State over the weekend. Now, they hope to work on a new streak, starting with two in a row against the Cougars.Last time out, USC got back in the win column thanks to goals from redshirt senior forward Katie Johnson and senior midfielder and defender Savannah Levin, along with another shutout from redshirt senior goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme. The Women of Troy’s success so far this season has been built on a high-octane, but unselfish offense — and a stone wall between the sticks.Johnson’s seven goals are tied with senior midfielder Morgan Andrews for the most on the team, and four other players have chipped in with multiple scores this fall, including six from redshirt junior forward Alex Anthony. A whopping nine Women of Troy have also recorded more than one assist, and Prudhomme has conceded just seven goals in 14 games. Prudhomme now has nine clean sheets on the year and has let in two goals on just one occasion: the team’s season opener at Santa Clara. Simply put, the Women of Troy score often and are rarely scored against — an effective, if not revolutionary, strategy.USC is currently the fifth-ranked team in the nation, but head coach Keidane McAlpine’s group is looking up at four schools in the Pac-12 standings. With five games left to play in the regular season (all in-conference matchups), the Women of Troy are within spitting distance of the conference summit, as Colorado, Cal, Stanford and Utah are all within a game of USC. A matchup against Washington State (1-5 in Pac-12 play) might be just what the Women of Troy need to make up that short gap. Utah and Colorado take on both Northern California teams in this week’s slate of games, making it a prime opportunity for USC to catapult itself into the Pac-12 lead.The Cougars won’t be easy prey, however. Although USC edged Washington State 1-0 in both of the teams’ previous two meetings, the Cougars claimed a 2-0 victory the last time they visited Los Angeles. They grabbed their first conference win of the season a week ago against Arizona State but lost to Utah in their most recent game. Washington State is yet to win on the road this year, and the Women of Troy will look pile on and hand the Cougars their sixth loss in seven matches.The Women of Troy will kick off at 2 p.m. on Thursday before returning to McAlister Field on Sunday to host Washington.
“But I could never say that fighting at The Garden isn’t goosebumps for me because that was one of the first times my dad realized I was an actual professional athlete was when he got to tell his friends that I was going to be performing where Billy Joel plays the piano.”Join DAZN and watch Bellator 222 on June 14While Hardy has made multiple appearances in the ring at Barclays, her first foray into the world of mixed martial arts came at The Garden a little under two years ago when she took on Alice Yauger in a bloody back-and-forth battle that ended with “The Heat” getting her hand raised in victory.She was back in the cage four months later, suffering the first loss of her professional combat sports career as a result of a doctor’s stoppage against current flyweight contender Kristina Williams before earning a unanimous decision win in her lone MMA appearance of 2018 against fellow boxer Ana Julaton at Bellator 194.Hardy’s foray into MMA has been a learn-on-the-fly, trial-by-fire situation, but now that she’s got another camp under her belt and aligned herself with the crew at Longo-Weidman MMA on Long Island, the fight game veteran feels primed to start putting it all together and making appreciable progress in her quest to replicate her success in the ring inside the cage.“I’ve got to be honest: my first two fights, I was kind of just winging it, right?” she said with a laugh. “It was like ‘we’ll see what I know how to do’ and it took me some time to really learn how to do things.“You guys saw my boring jiu jitsu in my last fight, but that was the onset of me starting to learn how to grapple; that was literally the first time I ever did it,” she continued. “This sport is definitely way bigger than I am and I have a long way to go, but after this last eight-week camp, I’m really excited to see where I can take it.“The one thing I love about Longo’s guys and everybody there is that they’re all just fight nerds, science nerds,” Hardy added of the team that includes former UFC middleweight champ Chris Weidman and current contenders Al Iaquinta and Aljamain Sterling. “They don’t just go in and make you fight — they break everything down, explain the science of it and that’s how I need to learn things. It’s how I was able to transition so quickly into boxing.”Hardy only started boxing at age 28.A year later, she won the UBF International female super-bantamweight title in her seventh professional fight. She picked up the WBC version of the belt two years after that and has since added the WBC International female featherweight strap, the NABF female featherweight belt and the WBO female featherweight title to her impressive collection.Now, at age 37, her record stands at 22-0 with one No Contest and she is considered one of the best female boxers in the world.As much as we often talk about athleticism and raw talent as key factors that help determine how far a competitor could go in this sport, and get especially excited when an elite talent from another combat sport matriculates to the cage, the most important contributor to being able to find success in MMA could be having the humility and confidence to know that you don’t know everything. And that surrounding yourself with people who are going to push you to grow is essential.While she doesn’t have a ton of experience inside the cage as of yet, Hardy fully understands that championship mindset and has put herself in the best position to learn every single day alongside the Longo-Weidman crew on Long Island.“I know what it takes to become a champion,” said Hardy. “I know what the learning process is like. I know how to humble yourself, submit yourself to your training and your teaching and how you have to have complete faith in your coach that he’s telling you all the right things and teaching you all the right things.”If you’re not learning, there’s a problem. You can’t do the same thing every day and expect to get better, so if a week goes by or two weeks go by and you realize you’re not learning how to do something better, than you’re doing ineffective training.“Being able to learn and knowing that every week, something is improving, I’m learning something new — that’s the formula for success,” she added. “It’s not just work hard, sweat and show up at the gym; you have to work smart as well and I love that with this team because I’m really working smart.”Apparently, she’s also gotten mean.“In this fight camp, I got so mean that my sparring partners get out of the ring and ask my coaches if I’m mad at them,” said Hardy, who has a Wu-Tang Clan logo etched on her right shoulder and identifies “Triumph” as her favorite track and Inspectah Deck as her favorite lyricist. As a Brooklyn native, Heather Hardy has an affinity for competing at Barclays Center, having laced up the gloves and stepped into the ring in her borough’s arena on eight occasions, registering a 7-0 record with one no-contest. But the multiple-time world champion boxer also has a special place in her heart for Madison Square Garden.“It’s apples and oranges. I love them both,” said Hardy, who takes on Taylor Turner at MSG on Friday night as part of the Bellator 222 preliminary card. “I can’t lie — there is something special to me about fighting at the Barclays Center. I was the first female to fight there and I fought there nine or 10 times; it has become a second home to me. While she personally doesn’t watch video of her opponents, entrusting the scouting process to her coaches, the crossover star has done her due diligence on Taylor Turner and fully expects the improving 36-year-old from Tennessee to be at her best Friday night.“There was an article online about ‘Everyone is sleeping on Taylor,’ but no. I don’t sleep on anyone, not in MMA; I’m still a baby in this sport,” she said of her bout with the 3-5 Turner. “I know she’s coming off two pretty big wins, first-round stoppages, so I know she’s going to come out aggressive, but everyone comes out harder when they’ve got to fight me, when they get their chance in the spotlight.“I’m expecting nothing but fireworks from this girl and I’ve been training for it. I’m excited to get in there.”