USC Prepares For First-Ever NCAA Championship Game

Dec. 8, 2007

The USC women's soccer team is all lined up to challenge for its first-ever NCAA championship on Sunday. The second-seeded Trojans take on another first-time national finalist with a championship clash against third-seeded Florida State, which topped Notre Dame 3-2 in Friday's first semifinal. The Women of Troy punched their ticket to the NCAA championship game by posting a 2-1 win over crosstown rival and top-seeded UCLA on Friday night. USC and Florida State square off on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT at Aggie Soccer Complex in College Station, Texas. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

Today, head coach Ali Khosroshahin and midfielders Ashley Nick and Ashli Sandoval fielded questions from the media at an off-day press conference. Quotes are below.

USC's NCAA Final Fast Facts:
- This is USC's first-ever appearance in the NCAA Championship game
- USC had never passed the NCAA Second Round until this season
- The Trojans are 10-8 all-time in NCAA competition
- USC has outscored opponents 45-13 this season
- USC has outscored NCAA Tournament opponents 8-1
- UCLA was the first team to score on the Trojans in tournament play- Head coach Ali Khosroshahin has become one of only two coaches to lead their team to the NCAA title game as a first-year coach (Randy Waldrum did it with Notre Dame in 1999)
- USC has scored the third most single-season goals in program history (45)
- 13 single-season goals allowed is a program record at USC (last achieved in 2006)
- USC goalkeeper Kristin Olsen had a career-high eight saves in the semifinal against UCLA
- Amy Rodriguez had the first multiple-goal game with two against UCLA in the semifinal.
- Rodriguez now ranks No. 6 all-time at USC in career points (59), No. 7 in career goals (23) and No. 4 in career game-winning goals (9).
- Freshman Ashli Sandoval now ranks No. 10 all-time at USC in career assists (11).
- USC's win over UCLA snapped a 11-game winless streak against the Bruins (last win in 1998).
- USC is 1-2 all-time against Florida State
8/29/03: USC 2, FSU 1 (Tallahassee, Fla.)
8/29/04: FSU 2, USC 1 (Tallahassee, Fla.)
8/26/05: FSU 4, USC 0 (Los Angeles, Calif.)


USC HEAD COACH Ali Khosroshahin
opening comment...
'We are very excited to be in the final. Like I've been saying throughout the tournament, we get judged on winning national championships at USC, and that's what we're looking forward to do tomorrow.'

On having to change the soccer culture at USC...
'I think we had to change a lot of things. I think the discipline was the first thing we put our focus into. Our work ethic was probably the second thing we focused in on. The last was our attitude, of making soccer the highlight of our day, making practice the part of the day we all look forward to being a part of. We changed that by running [laughter]. We just ran until they figured out they've got to do things the right way or they've got to keep running.'

On a mid-season conversation with Georgia coach Patrick Baker...
'After we played them, he said he thought we were capable of getting to the final four and doing something special this year. When he told me that I just kind of brushed it off, because it was still early in the year and we still had a lot of work to do then. (Then) I think after the first time we played UCLA, we walked away very disappointed, but they were the No. 1 team in the country and for us to be able to measure ourselves against the best, I thought we were close.'

On the quick turnaround between the semifinal and final matches...
'You know, that's the funny thing about NCAA soccer...the demands that are placed on players in one match, and then to ask them to come back and play another match in less than 48 hours, is really unfair. I think players need at least 72 hours to recover fully to put another good effort out on the field. But we've been doing it all year, and I think we'll be fine tomorrow.'

On FSU coach Mark Krikorian...
'I know Mark very well. I think he's a very good coach, a very good person. Every time I've seen him he's been very gracious. We talk frequently. I have a lot of respect for Mark.'

On FSU's style of play...
'They like to possess the ball. I know (Mark Krikorian) wasn't real happy with the way they played yesterday, and I wasn't real happy with the way we played, but I think we both will take the result over how we played yesterday.'

JUNIOR Ashley Nick
On the change in coaching and in philosophy...
'It was a lot different than the years in the past. We changed everything, from using the side that we started on on our home field, just everything, to make a clean slate. It was a lot better. I've been having a lot more fun. It's paying off, all the changes.'

On the play Friday night of goalkeeper Kristin Olsen...
'Awesome. She always plays like that, always reliable for us in the back. I think she just gets big in there and people don't know where to shoot on her. She stayed calm the whole game, she gave us direction the whole game, and even having to face with people behind the goal was a new thing...because normally she doesn't have people behind the net. I think she dealt with it really well. She's just an awesome player.'

FRESHMAN Ashli Sandoval
On coming down off the UCLA win...
'It was a really big win for us and we were really excited, but we just try to stay humble and keep our cool.'

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2:00 AM PT

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