Women's Soccer Prepares For Showdown With No. 4 Nebraska

Sept. 4, 2001

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THIS WEEK - The No. 19 USC women's soccer team (1-1) will open its 2001 home schedule on Sunday (Sept. 9) against No. 4 Nebraska (2-0) at 1 p.m. at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC is 1-2 all-time against Nebraska. The Huskers defeated the Trojans, 2-0, in the last meeting between the two schools on Sept. 20, 1998, at the Coliseum.

LAST WEEK - The Trojans split two games in Provo, Utah, losing their 2001 season opener against No. 13 BYU, 2-0, on Aug. 31 and defeating Tennessee, 1-0, on Sept. 3. In Monday's win against the Lady Volunteers, freshman Shannon Cross (Manhattan Beach/Mira Costa) scored the lone goal of the contest at 72:37 off an assist from freshman Kaitlyn Pruett (Encinitas/La Costa Canyon HS). Senior goalkeeper Shaelyn Fernandes (San Jose/Presentation HS) recorded her first shutout of the season and seventh of her career. She is now tied for third on USC's all-time list with Lauren Arase for career shutouts.

RANKINGS - USC is ranked No. 19 in Soccer Times preseason poll and is not ranked in Soccer America, Soccer Buzz and NSCAA. Nebraska is No. 4 in Soccer America and NSCAA polls, No. 6 in the Soccer Times preseason poll and No. 9 by Soccer Buzz.

JESSICA EDWARDS - Sophomore All-America candidate Jessica Edwards (Mesa, AZ/Dobson HS) looks to improve on an outstanding freshman campaign. Edwards, who earned All-Pac-10 Conference second team and Soccer Buzz Freshman All-West Region first team honors last year, led the team in goals (11), points (29), game-winning goals (4) and shots (97). She set a school record with 97 shots during the season and had a six-game point-scoring streak from Oct. 22-Nov. 8, 2000 (5-3=13).

ALI FENNELL - Junior Ali Fennell (Santa Ana/Mater Dei HS) is one of the top flank players for the Women of Troy after garnering All-Pac-10 second team honors in her first two seasons. Fennell has started in every match at USC and has 32 points in her career (13-6=32).

NEBRASKA NOTES - Nebraska, ranked No. 4 in the nation, returns eight starters from last year's 22-2-0 squad that reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers went 9-1 to win the Big 12 Conference championship. Nebraska is 2-0 this season after registering wins against Arizona (4-2) and Alabama-Birmingham (2-1) last weekend. Senior midfielder Meghan Anderson was named Big 12 Conference Player of the Week after recording seven points (3-1=7) in both games. Anderson is now No. 2 among Nebraska's all-time leading scorers with 119 career points. Senior midfielder Danica Carey recorded game-winning goals in both games. Head Coach John Walker is in his eighth season at Nebraska with a 128-24-3 record. Walker has guided the Huskers to five straight NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearances.

McALISTER FIELD - After sharing the practice field with the football team, the USC women's soccer team moved to its own facility prior to the 1998 season. McAlister Field, located on the corner of 30th and Hoover just north of the USC campus, is the permanent home for the team. USC boasts an 8-3 (.727) record at McAlister Field.

THE COLISEUM - The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is one of the greatest and largest stadiums in America, serving as the site for the 1932 and 1984 Olympics. The USC women's soccer team has utilized the Coliseum for selected home games, including postseason matches. In five seasons of play at the Coliseum, the Trojans have a 26-4-3 record (.833).

2001 SEASON PREVIEW - For the past three seasons, the USC women's soccer team has reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Despite losing six seniors, including four-time All-American Isabelle Harvey, the Trojans will look to a solid returning nucleus and an outstanding freshman class to get to the next level in 2001. Sixth-year head coach Jim Millinder continues to hone his high-pressure, high-octane offensive scheme and has recruited talent, with an emphasis on speed and physical play, to take advantage of that playing style. Consistency has been the strength for the program as the Women of Troy won at least 14 games in each of their last five seasons. USC (14-6-2 overall in 2000, 5-4-1 in the Pac-10 for fifth place) will be a relatively young squad with only four seniors on the roster in 2001. The loss of experience will be made up with additional depth and more scoring options. Whether or not the younger players can adjust to the Division I level will be a factor this season. USC faces a challenging schedule this season that features the typical Pac-10 Conference slate (seven Pac-10 teams made it to the NCAA Tournament last year) and non-conference opponents such as Nebraska, BYU and Wake Forest. 'Our first five games are against teams that will probably make the NCAA Tournament this year,' said Millinder. 'Because we have a young group, the schedule allows us to make some adjustments and gives us more time to work on the finer details of our system.' The system that Millinder talks about is one that was installed last year. It is a system based on constant pressure and one that looks to combine a mix of players based on their athletic, technical or tactical abilities. While it is not one implemented by many programs in the nation, Millinder feels it will be necessary to use in order to reach the next level. 'It's a difficult system to play,' said Millinder. 'You have to have the right players and everyone has to be on the same page. This year, we really have a good group of players and once they understand the system, the team will get better as the season progresses. 'The key is that we had an excellent spring. Losing the six seniors from last year, especially Harvey, is a big void, but we have a lot of experienced players. As far as the freshmen are concerned, it will be a matter of how quickly they can gain game day experience.

LAST SEASON - In 2000, the Women of Troy went 14-6-2 overall and placed fifth in Pac-10 play with a 5-3-1 record. The Trojans made their third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, losing 3-0 at UCLA in the second round. It was the fifth straight season that USC won at least 14 games.

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