No. 27 USC Gears Up For Pac-10 Opener At No. 4 UCLA

Oct. 4, 2005

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THIS WEEK: The Trojans open Pac-10 action against crosstown rival UCLA on Friday (Oct. 7) at 7 p.m. at the Bruins' Drake Stadium.

RANKINGS: USC (6-3-1) moved back into the national polls this week, receiving a No. 27 ranking from SoccerBuzz. UCLA (10-1-0) is ranked No. 4 in this week's polls.

LAST WEEK RECAP: The Trojans' six-game road stretch came to an end last week, and USC's return home was a successful one with a pair of shutout wins. Long Beach State fell prey to the Trojans on Tuesday (Sept. 27) in a 2-0 USC win sparked by Amy Rodriguez's fourth goal of the season with a score off a Nini Loucks cross in the first half. With 10 minutes left to play, Rodriguez then dished out an assist to Leah Gallegos, who knocked in a header for her first career goal as a Trojan. On Friday (Sept. 30) goalkeeper Veronica Simonton had her season shutout total bump up to five complete efforts when the Trojans shut down LMU 3-0. Stacey Strong one-touched in her third goal of the year at the 12-minute mark for a 1-0 USC lead. The Trojans added to that early in the second half when Loucks drilled in her first collegiate goal thanks to a Rodriguez assist, and then Tina Sutorius caught the LMU defense off-guards with a score from the right side that Rodriguez allowed to roll through for a crosscage score and a 3-0 decision.

TOP HEAVIES: USC's junior/freshman tandem of Rosa Anna Tantillo and Amy Rodriguez have combined for a load of points for the Women of Troy. Rodriguez now has dished up either a goal or an assist in eight of the Trojans' past nine games. After Tuesday's game-winning goal against Long Beach State, Rodriguez moved up as the team's scoring leader with four goals, and a pair of assists gave her a team-best 13 points on the season. When it comes to assists, Tantillo leads the way with seven, giving her the second best total points mark of nine.

GONE IN 16 SECONDS: Tracy Lansing's goal against Georgia on Sept. 16 marked a new school record for the fastest goal scored in a game. Just 16 seconds into play, Lansing finished off a pass from Amy Rodriguez, who received an early feed from Stacey Strong, eclipsing the previous fastest mark of 36 seconds set in 2003. In USC history, the Trojans have scored in the opening minute of play four times (2005, 2003, 1998, 1997).

OFFENSE ON: The Women of Troy have now scored in nine straight games, ringing their total offensive production to 23 goals on the season after last week's pair of shutout wins. In all, 13 different Trojans have hit the back of the net after Leah Gallegos, Nini Loucks and Tina Sutorius each broke into the scoring column last week.

DEFENSES UP: Before coming up against the potent Penn State offense on Sept. 11, the Trojan defense -- with sophomore goalkeeper Veronica Simonton in the cage -- tacked up three straight shutout wins. The last time the Trojans had achieved such a string of victories was in 2001 with three straight 1-0 decisions during Pac-10 play. Now with another back-to-back shutouts on the list, Simonton and her Trojans have combined for a total of six shutout wins this season.

GALLEGOS GETS GOING: After being sidelined for the start of the 2005 season, senior transfer Leah Gallegos has jumped right back into her position as an impact player in the front lines. Gallegos set numerous records at Flordia State before tearing her ACL and then choosing to come back home to Los Angeles for her senior season. She got her first start and first goal of the season against Long Beach State on Sept. 27.

TANTILLO TERRITORY: Junior forward Rosa Anna Tantillo continues to climb the USC charts. With two more assists over the weekend, Tantillo -- USC's 2004 scoring leader -- bumped her season assist total to seven to pull even with current assistant coach Isabelle Harvey's assist mark set her senior season onfield for the Women of Troy. The single-season mark already locks her in the all-time top 10 as the seventh best total. At this pace, Tantillo is on track to launch herself past Harvey's other single-season marks of 12, 11 and 8 set during her career on the field for the Women of Troy. With 12 career assists, Tantillo still has some catching up to do to reach Harvey's historic top mark of 39 career assists.

LECHE LIGHTS IT UP: Jocelyn Leche took another step up in the USC history books with a Sept. 18 game-winning goal on her perfect corner kick score against Oakland. The goal marked her third career game-winning score -- good enough to lift her to the ninth-best total on the USC career leaderboard.

STARTING FRESH: Six freshmen have stepped in with starting roles in their first seasons as Women of Troy. Five -- Meagan Holmes, Nini Loucks, Ashley Nick, Amy Rodriguez and Stacey Strong -- got starting nods in the season opener.

UCLA NOTES: The Bruins (10-1-0) have won six straight games since falling in overtime to Penn State on Sept. 9 for their lone loss of 2005. USC is 2-13-1 all-time against UCLA, having lost the past six game. The Trojans' last beat the Bruins on Nov. 1, 1998 in a 5-4 decision. The Bruins return seven starters and 17 letterwinners from last year's team that went 18-7-0 overall, tying for first place in the Pac-10 and reaching the NCAA championship match. Jillian Ellis is in her seventh year as head coach at UCLA. Danesha Adams is the team's leading scorer with 10 goals on the season.

2005 SEASON PREVIEW: The 2005 Women of Troy are a dynamic blend of veteran players and new talent. The Trojans' 12 newcomers were heralded as the top recruiting class in the nation, joining a core of veteran talent including junior leading scorer Rosa Anna Tantillo, senior defenders Hillary Schwarzbach and Jocelyn Leche and sophomore goalkeeper Veronica Simonton. New to the USC coaching staff is four-time All-American Isabelle Harvey, who completed her Trojan playing career in 2000. Headlining the group of incoming talent are a pair of freshmen with U.S. national team experience -- forward Amy Rodriguez and defender Meagan Holmes -- and Florida State transfer Leah Gallegos. The returning talent and fresh faces have already commanded the respect of the powers that be, as the Women of Troy have racked up a No. 18 national ranking and the No. 2 pick in the Pacific-10 Conference coaches poll.

McALISTER FIELD: Beginning with the 1998 season, the USC women's soccer team no longer had to share a practice field with the football team, as the Women of Troy received a field all their own. USC played part-time on McAlister and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum until 2002, when the team began playing all its home games at the new facility. USC boasts an 25-10-5 (.688) record at McAlister Field.

LAST SEASON: In 2004, the Women of Troy missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years after finishing tied for 8th in the Pac-10 with a 3-6-0 record. USC won five straight games in September and October, but lost its last four conference games to finish at a 9-9-1 overall mark.

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