No. 17 USC Kicks Off 2006 With Home Stand This Weekend

Aug. 22, 2006

THIS WEEK: The Women of Troy kick off the 2006 season with a weekend home stand against a pair of Big West Conference opponents. USC's opener pits the Trojans against UC Santa Barbara at 3 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 25). The action continues on Sunday (Aug. 27) with a 1 p.m. showdown against UC Irvine.

RANKINGS: After closing out the 2005 season ranked in all four national final polls, USC again has staked its claim as a contender for the 2006 season. The Trojans boast their highest rank since 2002 in the SoccerBuzz poll, sitting at No. 17 in that poll, released Aug. 11. USC also ranks in a No. 17 tie with Pepperdine in the SoccerTimes poll, while Soccer America has USC ranked No. 22. Neither UC Santa Barbara nor UC Irvine are ranked in the preseason polls.

LAST WEEK: The Women of Troy saw their first competition of the season with a nonconference scrimmage against San Diego State on Aug. 19. The Trojans and the Aztecs battled to a scoreless tie after playing three 30-minute periods. Both teams created strong chances on goal, but neither was able to break through. USC junior goalkeeper Veronica Simonton was a force to reckon with in the scrimmage, making four saves including a pair of dramatic and athletic stops on Aztec attacks. All told, SDSU out-shot USC 7-5 and came out ahead on corner kicks as well, 3-1.

PAC-10 PICK-'EM: In a tight vote by Pac-10 coaches, USC is ranked No. 4 in the Pac-10 Preseason Poll. The Trojans received one less vote than No. 3 Stanford in the coaches' poll. Defending conference champion and NCAA finalist UCLA was tabbed the No. 1 team, and California -- last season's second-place finisher in the Pac-10 -- was selected No. 2. USC, which finished out 2005 with a 6-2-1 Pac-10 record to place third in the conference, received one first-place pick and ended with 62 overall points in this season's poll. Stanford was the Pac-10's fourth-place team in 2005, but garnered 63 points to take the edge over the Women of Troy in the 2006 poll. Coming in at No. 5 is Arizona (49 pts) followed by a tie at No. 6 between Oregon State and Washington State (34). In the final three slots are No. 8 Arizona State (23), No. 9 Washington (21) and No. 10 Oregon (17).

SCOUTING UCSB: The Gauchos finished 2005 with a 9-10 overall record and placed sixth in the Big West with a 3-4 mark. Genelle Ives led UCSB last year with six goals and returns for 2006. USC is 4-1 all-time against UCSB, with the only loss coming in the teams' first face-off in 1993.

SCOUTING UCI: The Anteaters finished 2005 with a 5-12-2 overall record and placed last in the Big West with a 1-5-1 mark. Megan Ortiz led UCI last year with six goals and returns for 2006. USC is 9-1-2 all-time against UCI, with the only loss coming in the teams' first face-off in 1994.

INJURY REPORT: USC has lost two players to season-stopping injuries suffered during preseason practices. Junior defender Kat Stolpa tore her ACL in her left knee. She had endured the same injury to her right knee at the close of her freshman season. Incoming freshman defender Briana Ovbude will redshirt her first season after dislocating her ankle.

2005 RECAP: The Trojans posted a 13-6-2 overall record in 2005 and made a strong statement in the Pacific-10 with a third-place finish on a 6-2-1 record. A program record 12 shutouts along with an all-time low of 20 goals against and only two tight Pac-10 losses propelled USC into NCAA action, where the Trojans picked up a first-round win over Gonzaga before falling in the second round to Cal State Fullerton.

RODRIGUEZ ROCKS RUSSIA: Sophomore forward Amy Rodriguez will miss several nonconference matches this year while playing in Russia as a member of the U.S. Under-20 National Team. The squad has settled into Moscow to compete in the FIFA Under-20 Women's World Championship, which runs Aug. 17-Sept. 3. Rodriguez has spent the summer competing with both the full U.S. national team and the under-20 team. She earned her fifth cap with the U.S. National Team while in Portugal at the 2006 Algarve Cup, and also helped the under-20 team qualify for worlds earlier this summer. In the USA's opener, Rodriguez got the call to take a penalty kick in the 65th minute of play, and she drilled the shot to give the USA a 2-0 lead over Congo. The score proved to be the game-winner, as Congo scored later in the game for a 2-1 U.S. victory. Rodriguez was recently named to the 22-player Soccer America Preseason Women's All-American Team.

SIMONTON SHUTS IT DOWN : After last season's NCAA First Round 1-0 win over Gonzaga, goalkeeper Veronica Simonton locked down a place of her own in the USC history books, standing tall as the single-season shutouts leader with 11 in 2005. Now with 14 career shutouts, Simonton is just one shutout away from tying Julie Peterson's all-time career mark.

2006 PREVIEW: This season's Women of Troy boasts a roster brimming with 16 returning players, including nine starters. Last year's bumper crop of newcomers now have a big year under their belts and return to Troy as 10 older, wiser and sturdier sophomores. Four seniors and four juniors are in line to guide the Trojans, who have four freshmen added to the roster for 2006. Headlining the charge is returning All-American and Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Amy Rodriguez, who starred on the front lines as a freshman, knocking in a team-leading nine goals and earning 25 points. Rodriguez is just one of several Women of Troy who earned 2005 accolades and are back for more. Now a senior, Rosa Anna Tantillo has been hauling in awards and racking up points for USC for years ever since being named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year herself in 2002. The standout midfielder dished up a whopping 11 assists last season and finished second on the team with 19 points to claim both regional and all-conference honors. Three other Trojans also garnered All-Pac-10 recognition along with Rodriguez and Tantillo, showcasing the versatility and depth coming back to the pitch this year. Meagan Holmes, Nini Loucks and Stacey Strong each hold down a different part of the soccer field, and all three were named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team last year. Defender Holmes also racked up All-American honorable mention and was a First Team Freshman All-American. Midfielder Strong received Freshman All-American honorable mention on the national level, and forward Loucks plugged herself onto the All-Pac-10 honorable mention list following a stellar first season at Troy. USC has four seniors on the roster this year. In addition to Tantillo, the Trojan veterans are midfielder Jocelyn Hein, forward Tracy Lansing and team captain, defender Lindsay Parker.

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