USC Preps For Pac-10 Home Opener

Oct. 18, 2005

THIS WEEK: The Trojans are back in town to play their Pac-10 home opener against Washington State at 3 p.m. on Friday (Oct. 21) and then Washington at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Oct. 23) at McAlister Field.

RANKINGS: USC (7-4-2, 1-1-1 Pac-10) is not ranked but continues to receive votes in the Soccer Times poll. Neither Washington State (8-6-1, 1-3-0) nor Washington (0-12-3, 0-4-0) are ranked.

LAST WEEK RECAP: The Trojans picked up four important points on the road in Pac-10 play last week on their trip through Oregon. After getting stuck in a scoreless tie at Oregon State -- USC's second straight double-overtime match -- the Women of Troy pinned up their first come-from behind win. The Trojans fell behind early in the first half against Oregon, but came back to tie before halftime on a goal by Rosa Anna Tantillo off an assist from Stacey Strong. USC kept the pressure on through the second half, and it finally paid off with just over three minutes left to play when Tantillo struck again with the game-winning goal for a 2-1 USC victory that put the Trojans at 1-1-1 on Pac-10 play.

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 and are now even at 14 points apiece after Tantillo's two-goal game against Oregon on Oct. 16. The last multiple-goal game Tantillo had was on Sept. 10, 2004. Rodriguez caused plenty of trouble for opposing defenses on the Oregon trip, but did not register any points. Still, the fiery freshman has managed to dish up either a goal or an assist in nine of the Trojans' past 12 games. Against UCLA on Oct. 7, Rodriguez and Tantillo both tallied assists, which bumped Rodriguez's team-best points total up to 14 on the season and kept Tantillo as the undisputed assists leader with her eighth of the year. Freshman midfielder Stacey Strong is just a notch behind in the Trojan points surge with 10 after last week's assist.

COMEBACK KID: It's been a while since the Trojans have staked a comeback like they did against Oregon on Oct. 16. On Sept. 24, 2004, USC fell behind to St. Mary's and fought back to win in the 67th minute -- again thanks to a game-winner from Rosa Anna Tantillo. Over a year later, it was Tantillo again who staked the Trojans to a turnaround. On Oct. 16, after the Ducks put the Women of Troy in a 1-0 hole, Tantillo managed a tying score in the first half and then tacked up her second goal of the the game-winning goal in the 87th minute of play.

STRONG MOVES: With her goal just 78 seconds into the game against UCLA on Oct. 7, freshman midfielder Stacey Strong moved up to tie with fellow freshman Amy Rodriguez as the team scoring leaders with four goals apiece. That goal was Strong's fourth in the past five games, and Strong continued her effective play on Sunday (Oct. 16) with her second assist of the season against Oregon. Strong has served up either a goal or an assist in six of the past eight games.

OFFENSE ON: The Women of Troy had their 10-game scoring streak snapped on the road with last week's 0-0 tie against Oregon State, but their production at home has been strong. Since failing to score in their home opener against Florida State, the Trojans have scored 11 goals in their past three home games on the way into this week's home stand against Washington State and Washington. Overall, 13 different Trojans have hit the back of the net this season, and eight have now done it at least twice.

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. Against UCLA on Oct. 7, Simonton faced a whopping 24 Bruin shots, and came away with a career-high 11 saves in the tough 3-2 double-overtime loss. Simonton and her defense have now combined for seven shutouts this season.

TANTILLO TERRITORY: Junior midfielder Rosa Anna Tantillo continues to climb the USC charts. Her two goals against Oregon on Oct. 16 bumped the team captain to 14 points on the season and 51 career points to move her into the No. 6 slot all-time at USC. Even more impressive is Tantillo's game-winning goal tally, which ballooned to nine career game-winners to lock Tantillo at No. 3 in the Trojan history books. And with her assist against UCLA on Oct. 7, Tantillo -- USC's 2004 scoring leader -- improved her single-season assist total to eight to re-tie current assistant coach Isabelle Harvey's assist mark set her junior season onfield for the Women of Troy. The single-season mark locks Tantillo in the all-time top 10 with the sixth best total. At this pace, Tantillo is on track to launch herself past Harvey's other single-season assist marks of 12 and 11 set during her career on the field for the Women of Troy. Now with 13 career assists, Tantillo still has some catching up to do to reach Harvey's historic top mark of 39 career assists.

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).

WASHINGTON STATE NOTES: The Cougars (8-6-1, 1-3-0) got their first Pac-10 win of the year last week with a 2-1 double-overtime victory over then-No. 19 Arizona. WSU had previously fallen 4-2 to Arizona State. USC is 7-3 all-time against Washington State. The Cougars won last year's meeting 2-0. WSU returns 10 starters and 18 letterwinners from last year's team that went 8-7-4 overall and 3-4-2 in Pac-10 play to finish eighth. Matt Potter is in his third year as head coach at WSU. Carmen Anderson is the team's leading scorer with six goals on the season.

WASHINGTON NOTES: The Huskies (0-12-3, 0-4-0) are winless this season, marking a distinct turnaround from last year's squad that reached the NCAA quarterfinals. Washington lost 1-0 to Arizona and 3-0 to Arizona State last week. USC is 4-6-1 all-time against Washington, with the past two meetings going into overtime. The teams tied 1-1 in 2003, and the Huskies won last year's battle 2-1. Washington returns four starters and 10 letterwinners from last year's team that went 17-5-1 overall and 5-3-1 in Pac-10 play to finish third in the conferece. Lesle Gallimore is in her 12th year as head coach at Washington. Melissa Beal is the team's leading scorer with four goals on the 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. Since then, Gallegos was in the starting lineup for three straight games and saw plenty of time onfield in Oregon.

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.

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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