No. 6 USC Opens Pac-10 Play This Weekend

Oct. 9, 2007

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THIS WEEK: The No. 6 Women of Troy (8-1-1) set sail on Pac-10 competition this weekend, opening conference play at home for games against Oregon and Oregon State. The Trojans first Pac-10 clash puts them up against the Ducks (7-4-0) at 3 p.m. on Friday (Oct. 12). USC faces Oregon State (7-3-1) at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Both games will be held at McAlister Field.

RANKINGS: After a week off of competition following USC's big upset win over then-No. 2 Portland on Sept. 30, the Women of Troy have remained high in the national polls. USC is enjoying its highest ranking from SoccerBuzz since 2000, sitting at No. 6. The Women of Troy are also slotted at No. 9 by Soccer America, and are No. 13 in the NSCAA/adidas poll, No. 13 in SoccerTimes and No. 23 according to TopDrawer. Neither Oregon nor Oregon State are ranked this week.

LAST WEEK: The Women of Troy had a bye week last week, but it was some well-deserved rest after a big winning weekend for USC at the close of September. The Trojans opened with a 3-0 win over Long Beach State on Friday, marking USC's fifth straight shutout of the season. Goals came from Marihelen Tomer, Lauren Brown and Megan Ohai, as Tomer's goal came in the first half and stood as her second career game-winning goal. Goalies Kristin Olsen and Brittany Massro each had a hand in the shutout with a save apiece. Against No. 2 Portland, USC kept good pressure on the Pilots. In the 31st minute, Kasey Johnson sent a long ball up to Megan Ohai, who headed down a pass to Alyssa Dávila on the right side of the box for a score that put USC ahead 1-0. Portland would answer with a score before halftime to tie things up. In the second half, USC stayed strong and got a game-winning goal from Amy Rodriguez off of another assist from Ohai, as Rodriguez sped on the ball ahead of the Pilots keeper and put away the score to get USC a big win over Portland. The victory extends USC's unbeaten streak to six games for an 8-1-1 overall record as Pac-10 play approaches. Rodriguez's game-winning goal marks her seventh at USC and her 16th career goal. She now ranks No. 6 all-time in game-winners and No. 8 in career goals at Troy.

NATION'S BEST: For their big efforts in USC's winning weekend against Long Beach State and Portland, junior Amy Rodriguez and freshman Megan Ohai were named to national teams of the week. Rodriguez -- who had a goal and an assist over that weekend -- earned a place on the Soccer America Team of the Week, and Ohai -- who tallied a goal and two assists -- was named to the SoccerBuzz Elite Team of the Week.

SCOUTING OREGON: Oregon enters the week with a 7-4-0 overall record after losing 4-0 to Portland and beating Gonzaga 4-1 last week. Allison Newton leads the Ducks in scoring with five goals, and Teresa Bowns and Danielle Sweeney each have scored four goals this season. Head coach Tara Erickson enters her third season at Oregon, which went 12-6-2 overall and finished second in the Pac-10 at 6-1-2 last season, barely missing a spot in the NCAA Tournament. USC is 10-1 all-time against the Ducks, suffering its first-ever loss last season in a 3-1 loss in Eugene.

SCOUTING OREGON STATE: Oregon State is 7-3-1 overall entering this week's action after losing 1-0 to Gonzaga last week. Jodie Taylor leads the Pac-10 in scoring this season with a whopping 12 goals. Head coach Steve Fennah is in his 10th season at OSU, which went 8-10-2 last season and finished 1-8 in Pac-10 play. USC is 11-2-1 all-time against OSU, holding a 12-game unbeaten streak after tying 0-0 in 2005 and winning 3-1 last season in Corvallis.

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; 0.5 pg), the No. 1 count for goals-against average (0.49) and is No. 2 in save percentage (.839). Also scattered among the conference's best are a number of USC freshmen. Alyssa Dávila is No. 2 all in game-winning goals (3) and No. 10 in goals scored (4), and fellow freshman Megan Ohai ranks No. 4 in goals (5), No. 6 in goals per game (0.5), and No. 5 in points (12) and point per game (1.2) . Ashli Sandoval sits at No. 8 in assists (3) and No. 10 in assists per game (0.3). As a team, USC is the conference's top team in goals allowed (5, 0.49 pg), is No. 2 in shutouts (6) and is No. 3 in assists (18).

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 Dávila 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 30 points, led by Ohai's 12 and nine for Dávila after her team-high third game-winner against Michigan on Sept. 23. And on Sept. 21, 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 torn ACL (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 the 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. Joining the back line in recent games has been junior forward-turned-defender Nini Loucks, who has brought her speed to the defensive ranks.

ON PACE: Junior forward Amy Rodriguez has made a home in the USC record books for career points (43), goals (16), assists (12) and game-winners (7), and she remains on the rise this season after tallying her third goal of the season against Portland on Sept. 30 and getting another assist at Long Beach State on Sept. 28. Within reach of joining Rodriguez in the history books is senior forward Lauren Brown, who holds 10 career goals, along with nine assists, as well as three game-winners for a career count of 29 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 and one shared. 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. Olsen and Brittany Massro shared USC's fifth straight shutout -- a 3-0 win over Long Beach State on Sept. 28 -- with one save apiece.

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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