USC Pushes On To Pac-10 Openers This Week At Home

Oct. 6, 2009

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THIS WEEK: The USC women's soccer team rides a seven-game win streak into Pac-10 play as the Women of Troy open the competitive conference stretch with two games at McAlister Field this weekend. The No. 14 Trojans (8-3-0) have their Pac-10 opener against No. 20 Arizona State (7-1-2) in a 3 p.m. game on Friday (Oct. 9). That game will be followed by a conference clash against Arizona (3-7-1) at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Oct. 11).

RANKINGS: USC is back up in the rankings again after several weeks out of the loop. Recent wins over ranked teams have pulled the Trojans up to now rank highest at No. 14 according to Soccer America, and is No. 23 in NSCAA and No. 19 in Soccer Times. Arizona State is ranked No. 20 in the NSCAA poll, and Arizona is unranked. All three Trojan losses on the year have been to teams that are now nationally ranked by NSCAA: #25 Ohio State, #17 Texas A&M and #22 St. John's. Meanwhile, USC has registered three wins over ranked squads: #21 Oklahoma State, #9 Santa Clara and #25 San Diego.

SCOUTING ASU: The No. 20 Sun Devils are 7-1-2 overall with a seven-game unbeaten streak after a 1-0 win over Pepperdine and a 4-0 win over Northern Arizona two weeks ago. Karin Volpe leads ASU in scoring with four goals and 11 total points. Briana Silvestri has played in all 10 games at goalkeeper with 25 saves and seven goals allowed. Kevin Boyd is in his third season as head coach at ASU, which went 8-8-4 overall last year and finished tied for seventh in the Pac-10 at 2-6-1. USC is 10-3 all-time against the Sun Devils after taking a 1-0 loss at ASU last season.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Wildcats are 3-7-1 overall after losing 2-1 to Loyola Marymount last week. Renae Cuellar leads Arizona in scoring with six goals, and Devon Wharf has appeared in all 10 games at goalkeeper with 27 saves and 22 goals allowed. Dan Tobias is in his seventh season as head coach of the Wildcats, who went 9-11-0 last season and finished eighth in the Pac-10 at 2-7-0. USC is 11-3-1 all-time against Arizona after last year's 2-0 win in Tucson.

FOLLOW ALONG: Live stats will be available for this week's games. Click on the Gametracker link on the USC soccer schedule page at usctrojans.com.

LAST WEEK: USC took a tight 1-0 lead and ballooned it to a 4-0 win over visiting No. 25 San Diego with a flurry of late second-half goals. Alyssa Dávila served up assists on the first three goals for the Women of Troy and added a score of her own in the 87th minute to top off the Trojans' third win over a ranked opponent in the past five games. With three saves on the day, USC goalkeeper Kristin Olsen helped collect her fourth solo shutout of the year to push her career total to 24 ¬-- one away from tying as the career leader at Troy. The Trojan back line was without Karter Haug for the first time in the junior's career, as she had accumulated five yellow cards in previous games, but the Women of Troy did welcome back to the defensive ranks redshirt senior Meagan Holmes -- a 2005 All-American who had been sidelined by knee injury for the past nine games. The win over the Toreros also marked USC's seventh straight win and their fifth shutout of that streak.

STRONG FOR WEEKS: Goalkeeper Kristin Olsen earned two shutouts on USC's winning road trip through Oklahoma with two saves against the Cowgirls and six against the No. 21 Sooners for her first solo shutouts of the year. For her efforts, Olsen was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for the third time in her Trojan career. The very next weekend, Olsen matched her career high of eight saves in an shutout upset of No. 9 Santa Clara, bringing up another set of Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. The back-to-back Pac-10 selection makes Olsen just the third player all-time to win consecutive weekly honors from the conference. The pick is the fourth of her career, lifting Olsen to a tie in the Pac-10 for the most career player of the week selections. Another shutout last week vs. No. 25 San Diego puts the senior at 24 career solo shutouts -- one away from the USC record.

FRESHMAN FIRSTS... AND SECONDS: Freshman forward Sam Johnson had her breakout game with a goal and two assists in USC's win over Cal State Fullerton for a four-point day. That 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. In a winning run through Oklahoma, the freshman tandem each snagged game-winners for the Trojans, giving each two goals on the year, and netting Garcia her second game-winning goal of her first year at Troy. For her winning score over the ranked Cowgirls, Johnson was selected as a CollegeSoccer360.com Primetime Performer for the week.

... AND THIRDS: USC freshman Courtney Garcia is 3-for-3 so far in game-winning goals. She's scored three times in her young career as a Trojan, and all three goals have stood strong as the game-winner. Three GWGs is the 10th most scored by a Trojan in USC history.

POINT TAKEN: Junior Alyssa Dávila had a career day in USC's 4-0 win over No. 25 San Diego with a role in all four USC goals. Three assists in the game matched her previous total in her freshman and sophomore seasons, and her score on USC's fourth goal of the day gave her a 5-point outing. That effort pushed Dávila to currently rank No. 10 all-time at USC in career points with 41 and helped earn her honors as a CollegeSoccer360.com Primetime Performer for the week.

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. USC's winningest goalkeeper with 39 victories now, Olsen has added four more shutouts to her total to currently stand at 24, with the No. 1 career mark set at 25. Before suffering a season-ending ACL tear on Sept. 11, Sandoval had moved up to rank No. 4 in career assists with 21, and with 37 points she's now just four away from teammate Dávila's spot at No. 10 spot for career points. Dávila and Ohai, meanwhile, also have nowhere but up to go on the career game-winning goals chart. Tomer now stands at the fourth-best count with 9; Dávila is next with 8; and Ohai has scored 5 so far. Also looming on the horizon for the group is the career goals top-10. Dávila's two-goal game on Sept. 11 cracked the top-10 for the junior, who now has 17 career goals to join a group of 11 Women of Troy who have ever scored 14 or more goals in a career. And with a pair of goals already this season, Ohai (13) and Tomer (12) all have that same distinction within reach.

SHUFFLING THE BACK: The USC defense has had a different makeup just about every week of this 2009 season. Senior Meagan Holmes started USC's first game, but a knee injury kept the All-American off the field for the next nine games. Junior Ashli Sandoval moved from the midfield to the back to fill in for Holmes, but Sandoval suffered a season-ending ACL injury on Sept. 11 to bring up another version for the defense. Goalkeeper Kristin Olsen missed her first game on Sept. 11 after being issued a red card in the previous game, and outside back Chelsea Buehning missed her first game on Sept. 25 for the same reason. Yellow-card trouble kept Karter Haug out of the junior's first game in her career, as she was sidelined for the Oct. 2 match with San Diego, leaving sophomore Claire Schloemer as the only Trojan defender to play in every game this season. Despite the fluctuating personnel on the back line, the Trojans have been successful in their game-to-game defensive adjustments. Freshmen Kelly Morgan and Stephanie Morgan each have picked up their first starts in the back to bring more depth to that USC defensive corps, and Holmes returned to action on Oct. 2.

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 is redshirting the season due to a knee injury -- each one factors in for playing time this year. Garcia and Johnson have been tabbed as dangerous scoring threats up front, and both have already flexed that muscle with two goals apiece after USC's first eight games. Kelly Morgan and Stephanie Morgan have shown the knack for either defensive or midfield duties; and Parker and Ransom largely play a central midfield role in the Trojan gameplan.

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.

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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