USC Visits West Virginia In NCAA Quarterfinals
Nov. 27, 2007
THIS WEEK: The Women of Troy are in an exciting stretch of a record-breaking season, having already set new program bests with 17 wins as well as their first-ever postseason run through the NCAA Second Round. Now deeply embedded in the NCAA tourney as one of eight remaining teams, USC brings a 17-3-2 overall record into this week's NCAA Quarterfinals, where the No. 2 seeded Trojans visit No. 4 seed West Virginia (18-4-2) on Friday (Nov. 30) in Morgantown, W.Va. The match can be followed live through Gametracker on the USC soccer page at www.usctrojans.com.
RANKINGS: NSCAA/adidas's No. 9 team in its final poll of the year, USC closed out the regular season as a unanimous top-10 team, topping out at a No. 8 rank according to SoccerBuzz, slotted at No. 9 by SoccerTimes and at No. 10 by Soccer America. West Virginia ranks highest at No. 10 according to SoccerBuzz, and is No. 12 in NSCAA, and No. 15 in Soccer America and SoccerTimes.
NCAA NOTES: This is USC's ninth trip to the NCAA Tournament, in which the Trojans are now 8-8 overall after posting three wins so far in this year's tournament -- finally breaking through the NCAA Second Round for the first time in program history and then topping Florida 1-0 last weekend in the NCAA Third Round. 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. USC's 2007 First Round opponent Creighton was only the second non-West Coast program the Trojans have faced in the NCAA Tournament (USC lost to SMU in 1999), and that out-of-region trend has continued with matchups against Missouri and Florida. In fact, there are no West Coast teams anywhere in USC's potential path until the Semifinals, where the Trojans could potentially meet Pac-10 rival UCLA.
USC IN NCAA ACTION (8-8):
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 2-02007 1st Round def. Creighton 3-0 2nd Round def. Missouri 1-0 (2OT) 3rd Round def. Florida 1-0
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.
SECOND ROUND VS. MISSOURI: USC's Second Round match with No. 23 Missouri was a tough one, but USC emerged victorious by breaking a scoreless tie with a goal in the second sudden-death overtime for USC's 12th shutout of the year and 16th win of the season. Junior midfielder Ashley Nick delivered the winning strike for the Trojans, driving a diving header off a long flip throw-in from Megan Ohai in the 10fth minute of play to get USC the history-making victory. Regulation play was largely even. Missouri generated five shots in the first half to USC's three, but the Trojans picked up their pressure in the second half. The Tigers had several breaks on goal that were either snuffed by goalie Kristin Olsen or knocked clear by the USC back line. In the 75th minute, Missouri's Alysha Bonnick had Olsen pulled out high and got past her, but her shot on an open net went wide to keep the game scoreless. The Women of Troy came out ready for overtime. Janessa Currier, Amy Rodriguez, Ohai and Marihelen Tomer all took stabs at the cage but couldn't break through. In the second overtime, Currier blocked an early Tiger shot attempt to keep USC on track. Four minutes later, the Trojans got deep in Missouri territory once more, gaining a throw-in from the right sideline. Ohai stepped back to take the throw, launching a the ball off a flip into the box. The ball just passed over Kasey Johnson on the near post, and Nick was in position to finish it off. Nick drove a header straight in for the game-winning goal - the first of her USC career - extending the Trojans' season and tallying a record-tying win total for Ali Khosroshahin's 2007 USC squad.
THIRD ROUND VS. FLORIDA: It was another career first that helped get the Trojans a 1-0 win over Florida in the Third Round, as freshman Kasey Johnson nailed the winning header for the first goal of her USC career. Playing in the historic Los Angeles Coliseum, USC took on No. 3 seed Florida and played a strong game, following up a scoreless first half with a goal in the 48th minute when Ashley Nick launched a free kick into the box for Johnson. The USC defense took care of things the rest of the way, while the Trojans continued to create opportunities in the match. With four saves from goalkeeper Kristin Olsen, USC grabbed its third straight shutout of the NCAA Tournament and notched the team's 13th overall to put the Trojans one shutout away from tying yet another program record. USC's 1-0 win over the Gators secured the most wins in program history, as the Trojans improved to 17-3-2 overall on the year as they move into this week's NCAA Quarterfinals.
SCOUTING WEST VIRGINIA: Ranked highest at No. 10 and a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, West Virginia is now 18-4-2 after upsetting top-seed Penn State 1-0 in the NCAA Third Round. This is the Mountaineers' eighth trip to the NCAA Tournament. Ashley Banks leads WVU in scoring with 15 goals, and Deana Everrett has 10. Head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown is in her 12th season at West Virginia, which qualified for the 2007 postseason as the Big East champion. This will be the first-ever meeting between USC and WVU, and the teams have played no common opponents this year.
YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN: The USC soccer team returned to its old stomping grounds for the NCAA Third Round after five full seasons away from the Coliseum. The Coliseum is home to the USC football team, which also shared the venue with USC soccer until 2002 when McAlister Field became the fulltime home to Trojan soccer. The last USC women's soccer game to be played at the Coliseum was Sept. 9, 2001 in a nonconference match against Nebraska. USC has hosted three NCAA First Round matches at the Coliseum in the past -- a 2-1 overtime win over Washington in 1998, a 1-0 overtime loss to SMU and a 2-1 win over San Diego in 2000. With their 2007 victory over Florida, USC has now accumulated a 27-5-3 all-time record in games at the Coliseum, including a 3-1 record in NCAA matches at the venue.
POSTSEASON POSITIONING: In a season in which the Trojans have seen their highest national rankings in program history, USC has continued to turn heads and exceed expectations, not only moving past the NCAA Second Round for the first time ever, but also punching through to this week's NCAA Quarterfinals. With 14 wins heading into the NCAA Tournament, the Trojans were three wins away from setting a new record at Troy for total wins. USC's Third Round win broke new ground for the Women of Troy with win No. 17 of the year.
SCATTER STRATEGY: While other teams lean heavily on one or two specific players game-in and game-out for their scoring production, the USC offensive onslaught is overwhelmingly widespread. Eleven different players have now scored for the Women of Troy this year as they have accumulated 42 goals so far to tie the No. 4 all-time mark set in 1998. That total is the most goals scored since 1999 when USC tallied 44 goals. Amy Rodriguez is in the lead with eight goals, followed by Megan Ohai and Lauren Brown with six each, Alyssa Dávila with five and, Janessa Currier, Marihelen Tomer and Ashley Nick with four goals apiece in USC's diverse attack. Karter Haug, Meagan Holmes and Kasey Johnson have also now scored for the Trojans.
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 51 points, led by Ohai's 17 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 tallied her first career goal with a score against Cal on Oct. 19, and Kasey Johnson joined the club as well with her game-winning header against Florida on Nov. 24 in the NCAA Third Round.
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. 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 42-12 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 10 solo shutouts and three shared after Saturday's shutout of Florida. 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. USC now holds 13 shutouts this season.
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 earned a place in the 2007 NCAA Tournament and only USC and UCLA remain. Standing tall in the Pac-10 stats through the regular season was goalie Kristin Olsen, who entered the postseason ranked No. 2 in shutouts (7), No. 3 in shutouts per game (0.37) and save percentage (.812) and goals-against average (0.44) and was No. 5 in saves (52). Also scattered among the conference's best were a number of USC freshmen. Ashli Sandoval held the conference No. 2 mark in assists (8) and was No. 3 in assists per game (0.42). Alyssa Dávila held the second-best mark in game-winning goals (4) ahead of Megan Ohai and redshirt sophomore Marihelen Tomer (3). Ohai also ranked No. 10 in goals with 6 just behind junior Amy Rodriguez with 7. Rodriguez ranked 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.