USC Has Gonzaga and Michigan Lined Up at McAlister

Sept. 9, 2009

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THIS WEEK: The USC women’s soccer team settles back in on home turf this week for two games at McAlister Field. The Women of Troy are looking to bulk up their record on the year, and have two unranked out-of-state opponents coming to town to face them. USC (1-3) will first go up against Gonzaga (3-1) at 3 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 11) and then will play Michigan (3-3) at 12 p.m. on Sunday (Sept. 13).

RANKINGS: USC has dropped from its preseason top-10 ranking after taking two losses to open the season. The Trojans are now ranked only at No. 20 according to TopDrawer, but are unranked in the other national polls.

SCOUTING GONZAGA: The Bulldogs are 3-1 coming into the week after falling 3-0 to Washington State and beating Eastern Washington 1-0 last week. Lori Conrad is Gonzaga’s leading scorer with three goals so far this year, and goalkeeper Jessie Thalman has gathered eight saves in four games. Head coach Amy Edwards is in her first year at Gonzaga, which went 7-10-3 last season. This will be the second meeting between USC and Gonzaga, with the other clash a 1-0 USC win in the 2005 NCAA First Round.

The Wolverines are 3-3 overall after beating Central Michigan 4-3 and Eastern Michigan 4-1 last week. Jackie Carron has scored two goals and has three assists to lead Michigan in scoring so far. Goalkeepers Kristen Keane and Haley Kopmeyer have gathered eight and 15 saves, respectively. Head coach Greg Ryan is in his second season at Michigan, which went 4-10-5 last season. USC is 3-0 in past meetings with Michigan, including a 2-0 win in 2007 in Ann Arbor.

Live stats will be available for this weekend’s games. Click on the Gametracker link on the USC soccer schedule page.

USC came away with a split at the USD Nike Classic last weekend. The Trojans picked up their first win against Cal State Fullerton in a 4-0 shutout shared by goalkeepers Kristin Olsen and Brittany Massro. Freshman Courtney Garcia got the game-winner at the 2:14 mark of the game, and two more USC goals followed in the next 16 minutes on scores from Megan Ohai and Samantha Johnson. Alyssa Dávila made it a 4-0 USC lead by halftime as the Trojans held strong to get the win. Two days later, USC went up against Ohio State and played even with the Buckeyes until a one-on-one situation forced Olsen to make a diving stop on an Ohio State attack. She was whistled for a foul when the Buckeye striker stumbled, and, as the last line of defense on the play, Olsen was issued a red card. Massro came in to face the penalty shot, but it went through, and USC wound up with a 1-0 loss after that penalty shot score in the 79th minute of play.

FRESHMAN FIRSTS: Freshman forward Sam Johnson had her breakout game last week with a goal and two assists in USC’s win over Cal State Fullerton. Her four-point day matches her with Megan Ohai’s current season total, which the junior has gathered with a team-high two goals. That Cal State Fullerton game also saw another freshman first with Courtney Garcia’s game-winning goal. Garcia struck on a long-range shot off the post in the early third minute of play. It was not only USC’s fastest goal of the year, but also USC’s first game-winning goal this season.

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 entered the season with 20 solo shutouts in goal, with the No. 1 career mark set at 25. Sandoval has moved up to rank No. 4 in career assists with 21, and with 37 points she’s now just two away from tying at the No. 10 spot for career points. 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 (13), Ohai (13) and Tomer (10) all have that mark within reach if they even come close to matching last season’s production.

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.

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.

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