USC Starts Up NCAA Action On Friday At Santa Clara

Nov. 8, 2006

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TOURNEY TIME: The USC women's soccer team has secured its second straight trip to the NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament, earning a spot in the 64-team field with a trip to Santa Clara for the first round. The Women of Troy (10-4-5) will square off against the host top-seeded No. 3-ranked Broncos (15-4-1) at 4 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 10) at Buck Shaw Stadium. The winner of that match will move on to the second round against either No. 16 Stanford or Nevada.

RANKINGS: USC is unranked in this week's polls, but has received votes from SoccerBuzz and SoccerTimes. Santa Clara is ranked No. 4 in three polls and tops out at No. 3 in SoccerTimes; Stanford is ranked highest at No. 16 by SoccerTimes; and Nevada is unranked.

LAST WEEK: The Women of Troy had a busy closing weekend to Pac-10 action with a rainy trip to Oregon. USC posted its first comeback win of the season by powering out of a 1-0 halftime deficit to host Oregon State. The Trojans tied it up on an own goal forced by Lauren Brown, and then went ahead on a game-winner from Amy Rodriguez. Rodriguez then served up an assist on Jocelyn Hein's goal just 42 seconds later to get USC ahead 3-1 against the Beavers to notch the Trojans' 10th win. USC had a rougher go of it against Oregon, however. Again, USC fell behind and managed to tie it up with a score from Rosa Anna Tantillo in the first half. But two goals from Oregon's Nicole Garbin stole the game away from the Trojans as they were left with a 3-1 loss in the Pac-10 finale.

SCOUTING SANTA CLARA: The Broncos are 15-4-1 overall after claiming the WCC title to help hold a No. 4 national ranking and grab the top seed as a host to this weekend's action. Meagan Snell leads the Broncos in scoring with 11 goals this season. USC is 2-1 all-time against Santa Clara, having claimed their 2003 face-off 3-0 in Santa Clara.

SCOUTING STANFORD: The Cardinal are 13-6-1 overall after finishing third in the Pac-10. Kelley O'Hara and Shari Summers lead Stanford in scoring with seven goals apiece. USC is 3-8-2 all-time against the Cardinal after locking up in a 0-0 overtime tie during Pac-10 play this season at USC.

SCOUTING NEVADA: The Wolfpack are 13-4-4 overall after winning the WAC to secure Nevada's first NCAA appearance in program history. Karen Zmirak leads the Wolfpack in scoring with 11 goals this season. This will be the first-ever matchup between USC and Nevada.

LEADER OF THE PAC: USC was the conference leader this season in assists per game (1.53 apg) and on the defensive end in fewest goals allowed (11), goals-against average (0.54) and finished in a three-way tie for the most total shutouts with 13. Individually, Rosa Anna Tantillo led the league in assists (9) and assists per game (0.47), and Veronica Simonton finished as the Pac-10's top goalie in shutouts with 10.

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 took a hit, leaving them at No. 5 in the Pac-10 just a point behind Washington State, which the Trojans tied 0-0. There's no chance for a tie from here on out, however, as any match that stretches into overtime during the NCAA Tournament will be determined by a shootout.

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. And just after USC fell to Oregon, the Ducks popped into the polls with a No. 17 rank in SoccerTimes' most recent poll.

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.

HOMETOWN HEROES: USC's visit to the San Jose area marks a homecoming of sorts for three local Trojans. Senior Lindsay Parker hails from nearby Los Altos; sophomore Kelley Finch is an Atherton native; and junior Kat Stolpa grew up in Palo Alto. Sophomore Northern Californian Stacey Strong has a bit further to go to get down to Santa Clara from Santa Rosa, but the midfielder also will be another Trojan closer to home this weekend.

IN HEIN'S SIGHT: Consistency has been key for senior midfielder Jocelyn Hein. She's been a regular contributor throughout her career at USC, punching in at least two goals in each of her seasons. This year, she tallied her second goal against Oregon State and has recorded her first career assists this season with two to now hold six points, tying her career-best season mark as the Trojans enter NCAA action.

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 just moved up to No. 4 in career goals with her 25th score, accomplished against Oregon last week. 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 19 points has ballooned her career total to 75 to hold her at No. 4 in career points.

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 final home shutouts, 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. She also added a goal and an assist against Oregon State last week, tacking up her fifth career game-winning goal in the process.

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: In her sophomore season, forward Nini Loucks has made no mistake about bettering her freshman scoring marks. The speedy striker 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.

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