No. 16 USC Aims To Shut Down Two More

Sept. 19, 2006

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THIS WEEK: The Women of Troy are riding a five-game winning streak into this week's competition, which brings San Diego to McAlister Field at 3 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 22) before USC heads over to LMU on Sunday (Sept. 24) at 1 p.m. in Westchester, Calif.

RANKINGS: USC's highest ranking in the national polls this week has the Trojans (6-1-1) gaining a spot to sit at No. 16 according to Soccer Times, while they remain at No. 20 in the SoccerBuzz poll. Neither San Diego (6-2-0) nor LMU (4-1-2) are ranked this week.

LAST WEEK: The Women of Troy ballooned their win streak to five straight shutout victories -- a feat never before achieved in USC history -- with two home wins last week. The Trojans have posted five-game win streaks before (last in 2004), but even USC's program-best eight-game winning streak in 1998 saw several goals scored against the Trojans during the run. To make Trojan history over the weekend, USC first overcame a scoreless first half with a pair of goals tallied by USC defenders. In the 61st minute of play against Eastern Washington, Janessa Currier notched her first career goal with a volley off a Rosa Anna Tantillo corner kick. Thirteen minutes later, another sophomore defender, Meagan Holmes, connected on a header off a corner placed by Jocelyn Hein to get USC ahead 2-0. On Sunday, USC took on UNLV, and again the Trojans overpowered their opponents on both ends of the field en route to their most decisive victory of the year in a 4-0 win. Tantillo drilled her 12th career game-winning goal to rank No. 2 all-time in that category when Ashley Nick sent a pass up to Tantillo on the attack. Three more USC scores followed before the close of the match. Amy Rodriguez scored in the 14th minute off a free kick pass from Stacey Strong to get USC ahead 2-0, and in the second half Tantillo struck again when her long-distance free kick bounced off UNLV defenders for a 3-0 lead. Then, with just over three minutes left in the game, Tracy Lansing sent a corner kick in to Ashey Nick, who headed in her first career goal to make it a final of 4-0 USC. In the two games, USC ended up outshooting its opponents 36-6, while goalie Veronica Simonton bumped her career tally for solo shutouts to 18 to further her position at No. 1 in the USC history books.

SCOUTING SAN DIEGO: The Toreros are now 6-2-0 after a four-game win streak was snapped on Sunday with a 2-1 loss to UC Irvine. San Diego had topped another common opponent in its previous game with a 2-0 win over UNLV on Friday. San Diego returns seven starters from last year's team that went 6-12-1 overall and tied for sixth in the West Coast Conference at 2-5-0. The Toreros are coached by Ada Greenwood, who is in her fourth year at the school. Leigh Ann Robinson leads the team in scoring with four goals and three assists. USC is 4-2-1 all-time against San Diego, last winning 2-1 in 2001.

SCOUTING LMU: The Lions are 4-1-2 after splitting games last weekend with a 1-0 loss to Michigan and a 3-2 win over Oakland. LMU returns seven starters from last year's team that went 6-10-4 overall and finished eighth in the WCC at 1-5-1. The Lions are coached by Gregg Murphy, who is in his 11th year at the school. Jamie Bell leads the team in scoring with three goals. USC is 6-3-3 all-time against LMU after winning 3-0 last season.

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS Amy Rodriguez?: She's back! Sophomore forward Amy Rodriguez missed the first several nonconference matches this year while playing in Russia as a member of the U.S. Under-20 National Team at the FIFA Under-20 Women's World Championship. There, she scored two goals for Team USA -- first with the winning penalty kick against Congo during group play and then in the 90th minute of a 4-1 win over Germany in the quarterfinals. The United States finished fourth in the tournament, and Rodriguez is now back in town full-time for USC. It's been a busy stretch for Rodriguez, who also earned her fifth cap with the U.S. National Team this year while in Portugal at the 2006 Algarve Cup, and helped the under-20 team qualify for worlds earlier this summer. Rodriguez was recently named to the 22-player Soccer America Preseason Women's All-American Team. Her debut return to the USC roster was a strong one, as the sophomore dished out an assist on the game-winning goal and then scored a solo shot of her own in USC's 2-0 win over North Texas on Sept. 10 in Nebraska. She now has two goals and one assist in three games this year.

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. In the Trojans' 2-0 win over Harvard on Sept. 3, she catapulted herself into the lead of all USC goalkeepers past and present after notching her 16th career shutout. The effort put her at No. 1 in the USC history books. She's since shared two more shutout victories for USC, and pocketed two more solo shutouts to hold onto four this season and 18 in her career.

MCKEE MAKES A POINT (OR TWO): Junior defender Laura McKee tallied the first point of her career with an assist on USC's opening goal against UC Irvine on Aug. 27. She later doubled that effort with a second assist on the Trojans' fourth goal in their 4-1 victory.

DEFENDERS DO IT BEST: USC's defense has made history this season by pinning up five straight shutout victories. But the Trojan back line has not just been responsible for stanch defense; two USC defenders also were responsible for tacking up the Trojans' 2-0 win over Eastern Washington. Sophomores Janessa Currier and Meagan Holmes both punched in goals in the victory to secure USC's fourth straight shutout win.

FIRST THING'S FIRST: It took a year, but sophomores Kelley Finch, Janessa Currier and Ashley Nick all registered their first career goals this season. Being as the trio spend the bulk of their time behind the front lines -- Finch and Nick in the midfield and Currier as a defender -- the goal-scoring breakthrough for the group is certainly noteworthy. All three scored off corner kicks this season. Finch scored against Drake on Sept. 8; Currier knocked in the game-winner against Eastern Washington on Sept. 15; and Nick tallied a header against UNLV on Sept. 17.

TANTILLO KEEPS CLIMBING: Senior midfielder Rosa Anna Tantillo has been a presence in USC's history books ever since being named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. Now in her final year at USC, she continues to rack up points and climb the all-time ladders. With two goals and an assist over the weekend, Tantillo leaped to rank No. 3 all-time in career assists (currently has 21) and hold the fifth-best total for career goals with 23. Her first goal vs. UNLV on Sept. 17 marked the senior's 12th career game-winning goal to rank her No. 2 all-time. And on the points chart, Tantillo's team-high 11 points has ballooned her career total to 67 to hold her at No. 4 in career points.

PETROSSI ON THE PROWL: True freshman Jamie Petrossi is listed as a forward/midfielder, but she has been a full force on the front lines in her first season at Troy. Petrossi helped fill the temporary void left by last year's freshman sensation Amy Rodriguez while the sophomore spent time with the U.S. Under-20 National Team. Petrossi has been exactly the impact player the Trojans expected. Her speed and skill on the wings has helped open up the attack for USC, and the freshman has peppered the opposing goal with 10 shots so far, so her first career goal can't be far off. She's had a role in three of USC's goals, notching the first point of her USC career with an assist in USC's 2-0 win over Harvard on Sept. 3, and then tallying two assists in a 3-0 win over Drake on Sept. 8.

BROWNIE IS BACK: A facial fracture suffered early in the 2005 season put the skids on a quick and powerful start for forward Lauren Brown. She had scored three goals on just six shots for the Trojans before being sidelined for the majority of the season after her injury on Sept. 11, 2005. Now, Brown is back on the attack, and she already has garnered two goals and an assist for USC this season.

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.

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.

PAC-10 PICK-'EM: In a tight vote by Pac-10 coaches, USC was picked 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).

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