Women Of Troy Travel To Sunshine State For 2003 Season Opener

Aug. 26, 2003

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THIS WEEK - The No. 21 USC women's soccer team will open the 2003 regular season on Friday (Aug. 29) at No. 13 Florida State at 7 p.m. ET, followed by a game on Sunday (Aug. 31) at Florida at 1 p.m. ET.

RANKINGS - USC is ranked No. 19 in the nation in the NSCAA/adidas preseason poll and No. 21 by Soccer Buzz and Soccer America. Florida State is ranked No. 12 by Soccer Buzz, No. 13 by Soccer America and No. 15 by NSCAA/adidas. Florida is ranked No. 21 by NSCAA/adidas.

2003 SEASON PREVIEW - The 2003 USC women's soccer team returns nine starters and 16 letterwinners from last year's squad that reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Junior goalkeeper Julie Peterson set two school season records last year with eight shutouts, including three consecutive. Peterson spearheads a defense that includes two senior defenders: Amanda Roach and Nikki Goza. Two key starters, senior Megan Abbamonto and junior Ashley Casas, will be the mainstays in the midfield while senior forward Jessica Edwards will look to place in USC's career top scoring 10 lists. The Women of Troy also has their largest freshman class ever with 10 players, including midfielder/forward Rosa Anna Tantillo (San Diego/La Jolla HS).

NOT AN EASY SCHEDULE - The Women of Troy's schedule is among the toughest in the nation with 10 games against opponents that competed in last year's NCAA Tournament, including runner-up Santa Clara. The latest Soccer America rankings as of Aug. 26 show the Trojans playing five of the top 10 teams in the nation and eight in the top 16: No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 UCLA, No. 4 Santa Clara, No. 8 Penn State, No. 9 Virginia, No. 13 Florida State, No. 14 Arizona State and No. 16 California.

Julie Peterson - Junior Julie Peterson (Mission Viejo/Santa Margarita HS) turned in one of the best seasons ever for a USC goalkeeper last year, setting school records for most shutouts (eight) and shutouts in consecutive matches (three). Her streak of three straight shutouts included matches on Sept. 6 vs. No. 5 Penn State and Sept. 8 vs. No. 2 Virginia.

Megan Abbamonto - Senior midfielder Megan Abbamonto (Mission Viejo/Capistrano Valley HS) will be one of the team's leaders in 2003 after earning All-Pac-10 second team honors last season, the second time she has earned the distinction in her career. She missed the final six games of the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee on Nov. 1 against Oregon State, but is healthy now.

Jessica Edwards - Senior forward Jessica Edwards (Mesa, AZ/Dobson HS) will look to climb up the school career top 10 scoring lists. She has registered 46 career points (18-10=46). She needs three points to tie Carol Hatcher (1996-98) for fifth place on the career list. Edwards earned All-Pac-10 second team and Soccer Buzz Freshman All-West Region first team honors in her 2000 freshman season after leading the team in goals (11), points (29), game-winning goals (4) and a school-record shots (97).

FLORIDA STATE NOTES - Florida State returns eight starters and 15 letterwinners from last year's squad that reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament and finished with a 13-7-3 record. Head coach Patrick Baker is 51-33-5 in his fifth season at Florida State. This is the first meeting ever between the two schools.

FLORIDA NOTES - Florida returns eight starters and 20 letterwinners from last year's squad that finished with a 10-10-2 record. Head coach Becky Burleigh is 150-36-5 in her eighth season season at Florida. Florida is 2-0 all-time against USC. The Gators defeated the Trojans, 2-1, in double overtime in the last meeting between the two teams on Sept. 15, 2000, in Gainesville.

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 18-6-2 (.731) record at McAlister Field.

LAST SEASON - In 2002, the Women of Troy went 11-8-3 overall and placed fourth in Pac-10 play with a 5-4-0 record. The Trojans made their fifth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, losing to UCLA (1-0) in double overtime in the second round.

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