No. 12 USC Has Home Openers Set For This Weekend
Aug. 26, 2009
THIS WEEK: The USC women’s soccer team took a road loss in its first game of the year, and now sets up camp on its home turf for the first time this season, hosting a scrimmage against the Mexican National Team and then taking on St. John’s in an official game this weekend at McAlister Field. The exhibition clash with Mexico is set for 3 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 28). Two days later, season officially opens at McAlister Field with the Trojans’ 3 p.m. match against St. John’s on Sunday (Aug. 30).
RANKINGS: USC is considered a top team once again on the way into this 2009 season. Ranked highest in this week’s national polls at No. 12 according to NSCAA/adidas, USC also weighs in at No. 14 in SoccerTimes and No. 15 in Soccer America.
EXHIBITION REMATCH: USC head coach Ali Khosroshahin and Mexico’s esteemed head coach Leo Cuellar are good friends, and this will be the second time the two have faced off against each other. USC and Mexico played an exhibition match in February 2008, with Mexico claiming a 3-1 win at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
SCOUTING ST. JOHN’S: The Red Storm open their season on Friday at Cal State Fullerton and are unranked in the national polls. St. John’s returns all 11 starters and 17 total letterwinners from last year’s team, which went 8-6-5 overall and finished fourth in the American Division of the Big East. Top scorers Jen Leaverton and C.J. Ludemann are both back for St. John’s. Ian Stone is in his 16th season as head coach of the Red Storm. This will be the first-ever meeting between USC and St. John’s.
FOLLOW ALONG: Live stats will be available for this weekend’s games. Click on the Gametracker link on the USC soccer schedule page at usctrojans.com.
LAST WEEK: USC opened 2009 on a familiar and competitive surface, taking a trip to College Station, Texas, to revisit the site of its 2007 NCAA Championship victory and take on a whole new opponent in No. 7 Texas A&M. The Aggies got a goal of a corner kick just before the close of the first half and went on to claim a 3-0 win over the Trojans in a humid Texas night. Texas A&M had three different scorers in the win, although USC goalkeeper Kristin Olsen tied her career high of eight saves — coincidentally set in the 2007 NCAA Semifinal on the same field — in the USC season-opening loss.
FINAL COUNT: Two seasons out from USC’s historic 2007 NCAA Championship, nine players still remain from that title-winning squad. Led by fifth-year players Meagan Holmes and Marihelen Tomer and true senior and All-American Kristin Olsen, the Trojans still have a hefty depth charge of experienced athletes. Juniors Ashli Sandoval, Megan Ohai and Kasey Johnson have each earned national and regional honors as Trojans, heaping further acclaim on USC’s roster. All told, the Women of Troy have 15 players back from the 2008 squad, including seven starters, and there are seven newcomers to the roster for 2009.
TROJAN TRAVELERS: Summer vacation took on an international twist for two Women of Troy who received call-ups to the U.S. Under-23 National Team for overseas competition. Senior goalkeeper Kristin Olsen competed with the U-23 squad in Ireland earlier in the summer, and was joined by junior midfielder Megan Ohai for action in England in July. For both players, the summer training was their first with the Under-23 team, although both have been pool players at the younger U.S. levels.
STILL GOT IT: Three All-Americans have graduated from the USC roster, but two more remain in seniors Meagan Holmes and Kristin Olsen. That pairing represents a part of the powerful USC defensive corps, while offensively the Trojans bring back a big group of USC’s widespread scoring attack. Of the nine players who provided at least four goals apiece for USC in 2008, six return to the front lines. Ashli Sandoval was USC’s top scorer with 21 points as a 2008 sophomore, including six goals. Sandoval, Alyssa Dávila (7), Megan Ohai (5), Carly Butcher (5), Marihelen Tomer (4) and Ashley Freyer (4) combined for 31 or USC’s 51 goals scored in 2008, with returning Pac-10 All-Freshman pick Brittany Kerridge adding one.
ON THE BRINK: As NCAA Champions, Kristin Olsen, Alyssa Dávila, Megan Ohai, Ashli Sandoval and Marihelen Tomer are already in the USC history books. But those players are also locking in on the Trojan top-10 lists in several different categories. Already USC’s winningest goalkeeper with 35 victories, Olsen enters the season with 20 solo shutouts in goal, with the No. 1 career mark set at 25. Sandoval already ranks No. 5 in career assists with 20, and with 36 points she’s just three away from tying at the No. 10 spot for career points. Tomer, Davila and Ohai, meanwhile, also have nowhere but up to go on the career game-winning goals chart. Tomer stands at the fifth-best count with 8; Dávila has 7; and Ohai has scored 5 so far. Also looming on the horizon for the group is the career goals top-10. Only 10 Women of Troy have ever scored 14 or more goals in a career, and Dávila (12), Ohai (11) and Tomer (10) all have that mark within reach if they even come close to matching last season’s production.
EARLY HERMANN NOD: Senior goalkeeper Kristin Olsen has earned her first major honor of the 2009 women’s soccer season in being named to the Watch List for the MAC Hermann Trophy. It is Olsen’s second time on the Hermann Trophy Watch List, also named in 2008 after she was a finalist for the Honda Award in 2007 when the Trojans won their first-ever NCAA Championship. The Hermann Trophy winners are selected by Division I head coaches who are current members of the NSCAA. The list of 45 is cut down to 15 semifinalists in November, with three finalists announced in early December. Recent graduate Amy Rodriguez is the only other Trojan to earn two selections to the Hermann Trophy Watch List (2006 and 2008).
NEW IN ‘09: USC welcomes the arrival of seven newcomers to the roster for 2009, as head coach Ali Khosroshahin has a group of fresh Trojans who largely boast a balance in abilities that will bolster the USC’s push through the Pac-10 and beyond. Joining the Trojan roster for the 2009 campaign are Courtney Garcia, Samantha Johnson, Kelly Morgan, Stephanie Morgan, Morgan Morrow, Kat Parker and Lainie Ransom. All Californians except for Delaware native Morrow — who will redshirt the season due to a knee injury — each one can factor in for playing time this year. Garcia and Johnson have been tabbed as dangerous scoring threats up front. Kelly Morgan and Stephanie Morgan have the knack for either defensive of midfield duties; and Parker and Ransom will largely play a central midfield role in the Trojan gameplan.
LAST SEASON: In 2008, USC broke through the NCAA Second Round for the second straight season, following up 2007’s NCAA championship run with a trip to the 2008 NCAA Third Round. USC came up against Pac-10 and crosstown rival UCLA in that round, falling to the Bruins to finish out the year with a 16-5-2 overall record after a third-place finish in the Pac-10 at 5-3-1.