No. 14 USC Stays Close to Home This Week

Sept. 25, 2007

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THIS WEEK: The No. 14 Women of Troy (6-1-1) won't be leaving the county this weekend as USC wraps up nonconference competition. The Trojans first head to Long Beach State for a 4 p.m. match against the 49ers (6-3-0) on Friday (Sept. 28), and then return to McAlister Field for a home showdown against No. 2 Portland (7-1-0) at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Sept. 30).

RANKINGS: After a winning weekend, USC has risen again in the national polls this week. The Trojans jumped four slots to rank highest at No. 14 according to SoccerBuzz. Meanwhile, USC rose to No. 18 in the NSCAA/adidas poll, No. 19 in SoccerTimes and to No. 22 according to TopDrawer. Portland is ranked No. 2 by NSCAA and SoccerTimes, No. 3 by SoccerBuzz, and No. 1 by TopDrawer. Long Beach State is unranked.

LAST WEEK: The Women of Troy brought home a pair of wins from their road trip to Michigan, extending their shutout streak to four straight with a 2-0 win over Oakland and another 2-0 victory over Michigan. Amy Rodriguez dished up a goal and an assist on the trip, and goalkeeper Kristin Olsen pulled in six saves ice the shutouts to help the Trojans improve to 6-1-1 overall. The first step in the winning weekend was taken by Ashli Sandoval, who became the third USC freshman to notch a game-winning goal, scoring in the 20th minute against Oakland for her first goal as a Trojan. Rodriguez's second goal of the year came in the second half, as she finished off a pass from Stacey Strong to get USC ahead 2-0. Two days later in Ann Arbor, USC got an early jump on its hosts. Rodriguez served up an assist to Alyssa Davila at the 4:04 mark of the game, giving USC its fastest goal of the year. Another staunch defensive effort from the Trojans kept Davila's third goal of the year as the game-winner, giving the freshman a third game-winning goal on the season. USC padded its lead 20 minutes later when freshman Megan Ohai scored her fourth goal of the year by haeding in a rebound of Lauren Brown's shot off the post. The second half passed quietly, and USC pocketed its fourth consecutive shutout.

SCOUTING LONG BEACH STATE: Long Beach State enters the week with a 6-3 record after beating Middle Tennessee 5-1 and North Texas 5-0 last week. 2006 Big West Player of the Year Kim Silos leads the 49ers with five goals and six assists this season. Head coach Mauricia Ingrassia enters his fourth season at Long Beach State, which went 14-5-1 overall and 5-1-1 in Big West play last year, finshing as the conference champ. USC is 1-0 all-time against Long Beach State after winning 2-0 in 2005.

SCOUTING PORTLAND: Ranked anywhere from No. 1 to No. 3 in the national polls this week, Portland is 7-1 coming into this week's competition after beating Washington 1-0 and Portland State 7-0 last week. Portland's only loss this year was a 1-0 loss to Purdue. The Pilots have three players with four goals each -- Natalie Budge, Elli Reed and Rachel Rapinoe -- and Michelle Enyeart leads the team in assists with eight. Rapinoe has been sidelined by a torn ACL, however, and will miss the remainder of the season. Garrett Smith is in his fifth season as associate director of soccer at Portland, which went 4-1-2 in WCC play and finished 17-3-3 in 2006 after reaching the NCAA Quarterfinals. USC is 1-0 all-time against Portland after winning 1-0 in Nebraska in 1999.

PEPPERING THE PAC: USC's strong start to 2007 has seen several Trojans leap into the Pac-10 rankings. Standing tallest in the Pac-10 stats is goalie Kristin Olsen, who has risen in the ranks, holding the top shutouts mark (5; 0.62 pg), the No. 1 count for goals-against average (0.48) and is No. 2 in save percentage (.833). Also scattered among the conference's best are a number of USC freshmen. Alyssa Davila leads all in game-winning goals (3), and fellow freshman Megan Ohai is just behind with two. Ohai also ranks No. 5 in goals (4), No. 6 in goals per game (0.5) and No. 7 in points (8). Ashli Sandoval sits at No. 5 in assists (3) and No. 9 in assists per game (0.38). Joining Ohai on the posts board is Davila as well, at No. 10 with seven. And on the shot chart, juniors Amy Rodriguez (22) and Janessa Currier (19) rank No. 4 and 5, respectively.

FRESH START: The USC freshman class has wasted no time making an impact. Coach Ali Khosroshahin gave the starting nod to five freshmen for USC's first two games, and all five had a foot in Trojan goals during those opening wins. Megan Ohai topped them all with three goals in two games, including a historic back-to-back game-winner effort. She became the first USC player since 1998 to score three goals in USC's first two games of the year, and is the first-ever Trojan to notch back-to-back game-winning goals to open the season. Her first career goal was assisted by fellow freshman Karter Haug, and the remaining freshman starters also tallied assists in the wins. Alyssa Davila served up an assist in the 5-1 win over Weber State as well, and Kasey Johnson set up Ohai's third goal of the weekend in the 2-0 win over UC Santa Barbara. Both Trojan goals in the UCSB win were arranged by Ashli Sandoval, who notched assists with her first two corner kicks against the Gauchos. All told, USC freshmen have accumulated a combined 22 points, led by Ohai's eight and seven for Davila after her team-high third game-winner last week against Michigan. Also last week, Sandoval got in on the game-winning fun by becoming the third USC freshman to get a game-winner with her first career goal at Oakland.

GETTING DEFENSIVE: The Trojan back line has seen some adjustments this season. Offseason surgery has taken senior Laura McKee off the field for the start of the year, and a recent knee injury (Sept. 14) to junior Meagan Holmes has robbed USC of another experienced member of the stubborn Trojan defense. Even freshman Kasey Johnson was unavailable for Sunday's match against Tennessee due to a concussion sustained in the previous game, but still, USC has powered on. Junior transfer Amy Massey stepped in for her first start and went the distance in Holmes' right back slot. Junior Kelley Finch filled in for Johnson and also was instrumental in USC's impressive shutout of then-No. 15 Tennessee. Freshman Karter Haug and junior Janessa Currier have been the mainstays on defense for USC, playing every minute of USC's first seven games this season. Illness sidelined Haug for part of the Michigan game, leaving Currier as the lone full-time member of the USC back line.

ON PACE: Junior forward Amy Rodriguez has made a home in the USC record books for career points (41), goals (15), assists (11) and game-winners (6), and she remains on the rise this season after tallying her second goal of the season against Oakland on Sept. 21 and getting an assist at Michigan on Sept. 23. Within reach of joining Rodriguez in the history books is senior forward Lauren Brown, who holds nine career goals, along with nine assists after last week's assist, as well as three game-winners for a career count of 27 points.

SHUTDOWN STREET: Sophomore goalkeeper Kristin Olsen had a hand in two of USC's program-record 14 shutouts last season, but as the starting keeper for all of the Trojans' games this year Olsen has now notched five solo shutouts. Her first career win came after playing the full 90 against Weber State, and her first solo shutout came on Sept. 2 vs. UC Santa Barbara. Now, Olsen and the Trojan defense have tallied four straight shutouts

2006 RECAP: The Women of Troy posted an 11-5-5 overall record with a repeat trip to the NCAA Second Round. To get there, USC managed a huge upset of perennial power Santa Clara with a 1-0 win over the host Broncos in the First Round. The Second Round saw the Trojans up against fellow Pac-10 team Stanford, and the Cardinal pulled out the win to cap off USC's NCAA run. USC set new program records in 2006, notching 14 shutouts, including a stretch of six straight shutout wins. USC allowed an all-time low mark of 13 goals against. Pac-10 play was marked with a series of ties, however, which left the Trojans with a fifth-place finish after four scoreless draws for a 3-2-4 record. Season honors went to senior midfielder Rosa Anna Tantillo, who earned All-Pac-10 First Team for the third straight year. Meagan Holmes and Stacey Strong were named to the Second Team, and Lauren Brown and Nini Loucks received honorable mention. Regionally, Tantillo and Janessa Currier earned nods to the SoccerBuzz All-West Region Second Team. All honorees except for Tantillo return for 2007.

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