No. 2 Seed USC To Face Missouri In NCAA Second Round
Nov. 17, 2007
THIS WEEK: The Women of Troy are in the midst of their third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, as the Women of Troy have secured a No. 2 seed into the 2007 postseason action. Ranked highest this week by SoccerBuzz at No. 8 in the nation, USC is coming off a second-place finish in the Pac-10 (6-2-1) and now holds an overall record of 15-3-2 after topping Creighton 3-0 in Friday's NCAA First Round game. The Trojans now set up to face host Missouri (14-7-0) in Sunday's NCA Second Round, set to kick off at 1 p.m. CT in Columbia, Mo. The winner will move on to the NCAA Third Round -- a step the Trojans have yet to take in their nine trips to the postseason. USC's Second Round match against Missouri will have live video and audio available online through Mizzou All-Access at www.mutigers.com.
RANKINGS: NSCAA/adidas's No. 9 team in its final poll of the year, USC remains a top-10 team this week, topping out at a No. 8 rank according to SoccerBuzz. The Women of Troy are also slotted at No. 9 by SoccerTimes and No. 10 by Soccer America. Missouri is ranked No. 24 by Soccer America. Creighton and Southeast Missouri State are unranked.
NCAA NOTES: This is USC's ninth trip to the NCAA Tournament, in which the Trojans are 5-8 overall. USC has yet to break through the NCAA Second Round in program history. The Women of Troy have earned their highest ever seeding in the Tournament -- coming from a regular season that also saw the Trojans in their highest national rankings in program history. USC worked its way to a No. 2 seed thanks to a strong regular-season showing that saw the Trojans face eight teams also bound for the NCAA Tournament. USC went 4-2-2 against those NCAA squads: beating Georgia, Oakland, Portland and California; tying Tennessee and Stanford; and falling to Indiana and top-seeded UCLA. Creighton is only the second non-West Coast program the Trojans have faced in the NCAA Tournament (USC lost to SMU in 1999). In fact, there are no West Coast teams anywhere in USC's potential path until the Quarterfinals.
USC IN NCAA ACTION:
1998 1st Round def. Washington 2-1 (OT) 2nd Round lost to San Diego State 1-0 (OT)1999 1st Round bye 2nd Round lost to SMU 1-02000 1st Round def. San Diego 2-1 2nd Round lost to UCLA 3-02001 1st Round lost to Pepperdine 1-02002 1st Round def. San Diego 1-0 (OT) 2nd Round lost to UCLA 1-0 (OT)2003 1st Round lost to Pepperdine 1-02005 1st Round def. Gonzaga 1-0 2nd Round lost to Cal State Fullerton 3-12006 1st Round def. Santa Clara 1-0 2nd Round lost to Stanford 2-0
FIRST ROUND VS. CREIGHTON: USC dominated possession in its NCAA First Round match against Creighton, notching a 3-0 win to punch a ticket to the NCAA Second Round. After a first half of peppering the Creighton goal with 21 shots, USC finally broke through with what proved to be the game-winner in the first minute of the second half. Ashli Sandoval lined up for a corner kick on the right side, launching a ball into the box. Megan Ohai redirected it for Amy Rodriguez on the left side, and Rodriguez slotted the ball to the right side of the net to lock down a 1-0 lead for USC. That goal notched Rodriguez's eighth of the season and 21st of her USC career. She also moved up on the USC all-time charts to now rank No. 5 all-time in career game-winning goals with eight. Freshman midfielder Sandoval also ran her assists tally up to nine with her initial assist, and Ohai now holds four assists on the season. With the seal finally broken, USC kept pushing and got an insurance goal in the 54th minute when Marihelen Tomer broke loose and made a move on the left side, taking a slicing shot to the right that went bar-in for a 2-0 USC advantage. In the 74th minute, Haug played a long ball into the box, where senior Lauren Brown collected it, turned and drilled a shot that deflected off a Creighton defender and into the left side of the goal to make it 3-0 USC.
POSTSEASON POSITIONING: In a season in which the Trojans have seen their highest national rankings in program history, hopes are high for second-seeded USC's push to the postseason. With 14 wins heading into the NCAA Tournament, the Trojans are three wins away from setting a new record at Troy for total wins. In order to do so, USC would need to crack another barrier that has stood in its way so far -- the NCAA Second Round. The Women of Troy have yet to move past that round of the NCAA Tournament, but if seedings hold, No. 2-seed USC could reach a new record with an appearance in the Quarterfinals.
SCOUTING MISSOURI: Ranked No. 24, Missouri is an at-large in the tournament with a 14-7-0 overall record after tying for third in the Big 12 with a 6-4 record and getting an NCAA First Round win over Southeast Missouri State with a victory after penalty shots on Friday night.This is the Tigers' third trip to the NCAA Tournament. Kristin Andrighetto leads Mizzou in scoring with 14 goals, and Alysha Bonnick and Michelle Collins each have scored 11. Head coach Bryan Blitz is in his 12th season at Missouri. USC and Mizzou have never competed in program history. USC's common opponents with the Tigers this year are Cal, Stanford and Nebraska. USC tied Stanford and beat Cal and Nebraska. Mizzou lost 3-2 to Stanford and also beat Cal and Nebraska.
SCATTER STRATEGY: While other teams lead heavily on one or two specific players game-in and game-out for their scoring production, the USC offensive onslaught is overwhelmingly widespread. Ten different players have scored for the Women of Troy this year as they have racked up 37 goals during the regular season -- tying the total mark hit in 2005, which was the most since 21 goals scored in 2000. Amy Rodriguez is in the lead with eight goals, followed by Megan Ohai and Lauren Brown with six each, Alyssa Dávila with five, Janessa Currier and Marihelen Tomer with four, and Ashley Nick with three goals in USC's diverse attack.
FRESH START: The USC freshman class wasted no time making an impact at Troy. 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 48 points, led by Ohai's 16 and 11 for Dávila, who also holds four game-winning goals to lead the Trojans. 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. Haug also tallied her first career goal with a score against Cal on Oct. 19.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: The Trojan back line has seen some adjustments this season. Offseason surgeries have taken senior Laura McKee and junior Kat Stolpa off the field for much 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 Holmes' absence was junior forward-turned-defender Nini Loucks, who brought her speed to the defensive ranks until also being knocked out of the lineup by a ACL tear suffered against Oregon on Oct. 12.
BREAKING THE CYCLE: After averaging two goals a game during nonconference action in 2006, USC got bogged down in four scoreless ties and only eight total goals scored during Pac-10 play. This season's focus, consequently, was to build momentum on the way into conference action for a strong ride through the Pac-10 and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, where USC has yet to move past a Second Round match. So far, so good, as the Women of Troy scored 17 goals and notched six wins, two losses and a 1-1 tie during Pac-10 play (USC went 3-2-4 in conference play last season) to claim second place in the Pac-10 at 6-2-1. USC has outscored its opponents 40-12 so far this season, in comparison to a 29-13 edge in 2006.
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 eight solo shutouts and three shared after Friday's shutout of Creighton. 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, and Massro came up big with a penalty-kick save against Cal to lock away USC's ninth shutout of the year.
ON PACE: Junior forward Amy Rodriguez has made a home in the USC record books for career points (55), goals (21), assists (13) and game-winners (8), and she remains on the rise this season after tallying her eighth goal of the year against Creighton. Senior forward Lauren Brown also has joined Rodriguez in the history books, holding 13 career goals and 11 assists for 37 career points along with three game-winners.
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.
PEPPERING THE PAC: USC's run to an 14-3-2 regular-season record and second-place finish in Pac-10 play saw several Trojans ride high in the Pac-10 rankings. All told, four Pac-10 teams have earned a place in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Standing tall in the Pac-10 stats is goalie Kristin Olsen, who ranks No. 2 in shutouts (7), No. 3 in shutouts per game (0.37) and save percentage (.812) and goals-against average (0.44) and is No. 5 in saves (52). Also scattered among the conference's best are a number of USC freshmen. Ashli Sandoval holds the conference No. 2 mark in assists (8) and is No. 3 in assists per game (0.42). Alyssa Dávila holds the second-best mark in game-winning goals (4) ahead of Megan Ohai and redshirt sophomore Marihelen Tomer (3). Ohai also ranks No. 10 in goals with 6 just behind junior Amy Rodriguez with 7. Rodriguez ranks No. 10 in goals per game (0.37).
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.