No. 20 USC Finishes Out Pac-10 Play In Oregon

Oct. 31, 2006

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THIS WEEK: The Women of Troy enter their final weekend of Pac-10 play with a road trip to Oregon, where USC has a chance to close down conference play with a pair of wins to improve its shot at another trip to the postseason. The Trojans first face Oregon State at 5 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 3) and then head to Eugene to face Oregon at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Nov. 5).

RANKINGS: USC's highest ranking in the national polls this week has the Trojans (9-3-5, 2-1-4 Pac-10) ranked at No. 22 according to Soccer Times, while they sit at No. 30 in the SoccerBuzz poll. Oregon State (8-8-2, 1-6-0) and Oregon (10-6-2, 4-1-2) are both unranked.

LAST WEEK: The Women of Troy are coming off a roller coaster weekend in which they got bogged down in their fourth Pac-10 scoreless tie of the year before finally breaking through with a victory. USC again outshot its opponents all weekend long, but against Washington State the Trojans could not get to the back of the net. The scoreless effort marked the fifth overtime game USC has played and McAlister Field this year, and was its fifth scoreless tie of the year. In a must-win situation on Sunday against Washington, the Trojans got it done. After scoring just two goals in Pac-10 play on the way into the Sunday clash with the Huskies, USC punched in two first-half goals that held up for a 2-0 home victory. USC out-shot UW 22-2 in the match, as the reliable Trojan defense held firm to claim the 13th shutout of the year, setting a new program record for season shutouts. Redshirt freshman forward Marihelen Tomer made her mark in the Washington game by making her first career goal a game-winner with a score in the eighth minute of play. Sophomore defender Janessa Currier later added her second career goal with a header off a corner kick from Rosa Anna Tantillo in the 23rd minute. With her 10th solo shutout of the season, junior goalkeeper Veronica Simonton notched her 24th career shutout to help lift USC to its program-record 13th season shutout.

TROJANS ON TV: The USC-Washington State game is scheduled to be broadcast locally on FSN West at 1 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 3). FSN Prime Ticket will also air the game at 11 a.m. on Saturday (Nov. 4).

SCOUTING OSU: The Beavers are 8-8-2 overall and 1-6-0 in Pac-10 play after losing 2-0 to Stanford and 2-0 to California last week. OSU returns nine starters from last year's team that went 10-8-1 overall and finished eighth in the Pac-10 at 3-5-1. Head coach Steve Fennah is in his ninth season at OSU. Jodie Taylor leads the Beavers in scoring so far with seven goals and seven assists. USC is 10-2-1 all-time against OSU after getting stuck in a 0-0 overtime tie last year in Corvallis.

SCOUTING OREGON: The Ducks are 10-6-2 overall and 4-1-2 in Pac-10 play after tying California 0-0 and falling 1-0 to Stanford last week. Oregon returns six starters from last year's team that went 9-9-1 overall and finished ninth in the Pac-10 at 1-8. Head coach Tara Erickson is in her second season at Oregon. Nicole Garbin leads the Ducks in scoring so far with nine goals and one assist. USC is 10-0 all-time against Oregon after beating the Ducks 2-1 last year in Eugene.

LEADER OF THE PAC: USC leads all conference teams in assists per game (1.53 apg) and on the defensive end in fewest goals allowed (7), goals-against average (0.38) and is tied with in total shutouts with 13. Individually, Rosa Anna Tantillo is the league leader in assists (9) and assists per game (0.53), and Veronica Simonton is the Pac-10's top goalie with over 1,000 minutes played with an 0.41 goals-against average and holds a conference-best 10 solo shutouts.

ALL TIED UP: USC's 2006 season has stretched a good 108 minutes longer than originally planned thanks to six overtime games -- five of which have ended in scoreless ties. That mark of five ties is the most ever hit in a season for USC. And with four Pac-10 ties, the Trojans' conference points tally has taken a hit, leaving them at No. 5 in the Pac-10 entering this final weekend of play. There's really no room for another tie (or a loss, for that matter) this weekend if the Women of Troy are to make a move in the conference standings. With 10 points so far, USC has a couple Pac-10 teams within reach to pass them up for at best a third-place finish in the standings. Now No. 5, USC could bypass Washington State (11 points) and Oregon (14 points) if the Trojans can win out this weekend and the Ducks lose to UCLA.

TOP-25 TANGLES: USC has hung with the best of them this year. In fact, USC has allowed only one goal to an unranked team -- a single slip to UC Irvine in an eventual 4-1 USC victory. Other than that, USC's three losses were all to opponents currently ranked in the top-25: Undefeated and top-ranked Notre Dame, No. 3-ranked Pac-10 leader UCLA, and No. 22 LMU.

THE FIRST 15: The Trojans have had some quick starts this season, scoring in the first 15 minutes of action six times. The quickest goal of the year came from the foot of Stacey Strong at the 1:31 mark of USC's eventual 4-0 win over UC Irvine. The momentum of those six early goals has carried USC to wins every time, with the most recent quick score coming in a 2-0 win over Washington on Oct. 29.

TOMER TIME: After being sidelined all last season healing up a torn ACL and battling through another knee surgery in the spring, forward Marihelen Tomer made her first career goal a big one. The redshirt freshman knocked in the game-winning goal against Washington to help the Trojans breathe easier on the way to a much-needed Pac-10 win on Oct. 29.

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 another assist against Washington, Tantillo improved her tally and remains at No. 3 all-time in career assists (currently has 25) and holds the fifth-best total for career goals with 24. 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 17 points has ballooned her career total to 73 to hold her at No. 4 in career points. She ranks No. 19 nationally in assists per game (0.53 apg).

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 three more shutout victories for USC, and pocketed eight more solo shutouts to hold onto 10 this season and 24 in her career.

DEFENDERS DO IT BEST: USC's defense made history this season by pinning up six straight shutout victories and holds onto a Pac-10-high nine shutouts this year. 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. And while the pair combined forces once again on the back line to help get USC two more shutouts last weekend, Currier also scored her second career goal to get the Trojans to a 2-0 win over Washington in that record-setting 13th shutout.

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 three goals and three assists for USC this season, including a pair of game-winning goals against UC Irvine and San Diego. She recently tacked up a third game-winner to lead the team in GWGs after her score against ASU on Oct. 20.

Amy Rodriguez: ROAD WARRIOR: 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 also was 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.

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.

CHECK YOUR LOUCKS: Just over halfway through the season, sophomore forward Nini Loucks had already bettered her freshman scoring marks. The speedy striker has recorded game-winning goals against Harvard and North Texas, and has drilled a team-high four goals on the year. She finished her freshman campaign with three goals and one game-winner.

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.

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 standout 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 12 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.

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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