USC Has Rematches In Sight For NCAA Tournament
Nov. 10, 2009
THIS WEEK: The USC women's soccer team is bound for its 11th overall and fifth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, and for the first time since 2006, the Women of Troy will stay in-state to open its postseason push. The 2007 NCAA Champions have finished the 2009 regular season with a 12-6-2 overall record and are set to face Oklahoma State in the NCAA First Round on Friday (Nov. 13) at 5:30 p.m. at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. On the other side of the bracket for the weekend is host and No. 4 seed Santa Clara (13-6-1) and Michigan State (11-4-4). The NCAA Second Round in Santa Clara, Calif., will be held at 4 p.m. on Sunday (Nov. 15).
RANKINGS: USC took up residence in the rankings again in late September after several weeks out of the loop, and has been ranked ever since. A nine-game win streak that included four wins over ranked teams pulled the Trojans back into the top-25, and USC now ranks highest at No. 21 according to NSCAA and is No. 22 in Soccer Times and No. 24 in Soccer America.
FOLLOW ALONG: Live stats and live streaming video with play-by-play from Sam Farber will be available for this week's NCAA games. Click on the `Watch' or `Gametracker' links on the USC soccer schedule page at usctrojans.com.
USC IN NCAA ACTION:
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 Quarterfinals def. West Virginia 1-0 Semifinals def. UCLA 2-1 Championship def. Florida State 2-02008 1st Round def. Boston Univ. 2-0 2nd Round tied BYU 1-1 (advance on penalty kicks, 4-2) 3rd Round lost to UCLA 1-0
NCAA NOTES: This is USC's fifth consecutive NCAA appearance and 11th overall trip to the NCAA Tournament, in which the Trojans are now 12-9-1 overall after USC's 2007 run to the NCAA Championship and a trip to the NCAA Third Round last season. USC's 2007 national championship was the first-ever in program history, and the Trojans became the first Pac-10 school to win a women's soccer NCAA title. Before claiming the 2007 NCAA crown, USC had yet to break through the NCAA Second Round. Last season, USC made it back-to-back breakthroughs past the Second Round to move into the NCAA Third Round against crosstown rival UCLA. This year, USC has come up against 13 other teams now bound for the postseason, including four teams also in the Stanford bracket -- Oklahoma State, Santa Clara, Stanford and Arizona State. In total, USC has gone 5-6-2 against those 13 tournament teams this season. USC beat Oklahoma State, Santa Clara, Arizona State, San Diego and California, lost to Stanford, St. John's, UCLA, Ohio State, Oregon State and Texas A&M, and tied Washington State and Washington. USC earned an at-large berth in this year's NCAA Championships with its 12-6-2 record and after a fourth-place finish in the Pac-10 Conference with a 4-3-2 mark.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR: USC picked up a No. 4 seed in the 2008 NCAA Tournament and took a trip to Utah for the first and second rounds. The Trojans opened with a 2-0 win over Boston University to face host BYU in the second round. USC and BYU tied 1-1, and then USC won out on penalty kicks thanks to two big PK saves by goalkeeper Kristin Olsen and the winning PK scored by Megan Ohai. USC then returned to California to face crosstown rival UCLA for the fourth time in two seasons, and the Bruins managed a 1-0 win in Westwood to stop USC's run in the NCAA Third Round. The Women of Troy finished the 2008 season 16-5-2 overall.
TAKING THE 2007 TITLE: In 2007, USC earned its highest ever seeding in the Tournament -- coming off 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 in which USC took a 14-3-2 overall record into the 2007 NCAA Tournament before emerging with five more shutouts, a program-record 20-3-2 overall record and the 2007 national championship.
SCOUTING OKLAHOMA STATE: USC has already faced the Cowgirls once this season, netting a 1-0 win on a goal from Samantha Johnson in Stillwater, Okla., in mid-September. Oklahoma State went on to win the Big 12 Conference championship, and brings a 15-7-0 record into the NCAA tournament. Annika Niemeier is the Cowgirls' leading scorer with 11 goals during the season, and goalkeeper Adrianna Franch has 67 saves and 13 goals allowed in 21 appearances. Colin Carmichael is in his 14th season as head coach of the Cowgirls, who went 18-1-4 last season after beating Fairfield 1-0 in the 2008 NCAA First Round and then falling in a shootout with Rutgers in the Second Round. USC and Oklahoma State's first-ever meeting was earlier this season, now giving USC a 1-0 record all-time against the Cowgirls. This is Oklahoma State's fourth straight and fifth overall trip to the NCAA Tournament.
SCOUTING SANTA CLARA: USC faced Santa Clara earlier this season, with the Trojans tallying a 2-0 upset of the Broncos at Buck Shaw Stadium on Sept. 27. Santa Clara went on to take second place in the WCC and post a 13-6-1 overall record to get a No. 4 seed into the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Jordan Angeli and Anessa Patton lead the Broncos in scoring with six and five goals, respectively, and goalkeeper Bianca Henninger has made 31 saves and 14 goals against in 16 appearances. Jerry Smith is in his 23rd season as head coach of the Broncos, who went 4-12-4 last season in an uncommon and injury-plagued year. Including this season's win from September, USC is 5-1 all-time against Santa Clara, with the Trojans winning the last five games. This is Santa Clara's 20th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament, including a run to the 2001 NCAA Championship, a runner-up finish in 2002 and 10 total trips to the College Cup. The Broncos had made 11 straight trips to the NCAA Quarterfinals before USC upset SCU in the 2006 NCAA First Round at Buck Shaw Stadium.
SCOUTING MICHIGAN STATE: Michigan State brings an 11-4-4 overall record into its NCAA First Round game against Santa Clara, having finished the regular season with 1-0 win over Ohio State for a 4-4-2 finish in Big 10 play. Lauren Hill leads the Spartans in scoring with 10 goals, and goalkeeper Jill Fliestra has 83 saves and 17 goals against in 19 appearances. Tom Saxton is in his 19th season as head coach of the Spartans, who went 14-7-3 overall last season after beating UW-Milwaukee 2-1 in the NCAA First Round and then falling to the eventual tournament runner-up Notre Dame 1-0 in the second round. USC and Michigan State have not played each other ever before. This is Michigan State's second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and fourth overall.
LAST WEEK: USC closed out the regular season with a pair of overtime Pac-10 ties in a cold road trip through Washington. The Trojans first wound up scoreless with a 0-0 draw at No. 13 Washington State before going over to Seattle to face Washington. USC would score twice on first-half goals from Marihelen Tomer and Claire Schloemer, but the Huskies had an answer for both goals as the teams finished locked up 2-2. USC goalkeeper Kristin Olsen had 13 saves across the two games, recording the senior's 28th career solo shutout in the seven-save outing at WSU.
STRONG FOR WEEKS: Goalkeeper Kristin Olsen has strung together a nice run of historic honors as she's settled into her senior season at Troy. Her first two shutouts of the year came on USC's winning road trip through Oklahoma with two saves against the No. 21 Cowgirls and six against the Sooners on the way to her third career honor as Pac-10 Player of the Week. 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 was the fourth of her career, lifting Olsen to a tie in the Pac-10 for the most career player of the week selections. Against the Arizona schools, Olsen solidified another place in the Trojan history books with her 25th and 26th career shutouts to take over as the all-time leader at USC. New career highs also came for the senior recently with 13 saves in a loss to No. 1 Stanford and then 10 more saves in USC's win over Cal.
SHUFFLING THE BACK: The USC defense has had a different makeup just about every week of this 2009 season, but that hasn't stopped the Trojans from staying united as a tight and stingy unit in the back -- piecing together four straight shutout wins and 10 total on the year. 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, and was out of the trip through Washington due to illness. 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.
DANGEROUS DÁVILA: 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 crack the top-10 all-time at USC in career points and helped earn her honors as a CollegeSoccer360.com Primetime Performer for the week. She has since continued her climb as USC's top scorer. Thanks to another two-goal game at Cal, Dávila was named to the Soccer America Team of the Week and also a CollegeSoccer360.com Primetime Performer for the week. She served up yet another game-winning goal last weekend vs. Oregon, boosting the junior to a team-high nine goals and four game-winners to date. Her season points tally also has bumped to 23 this year for a career total of 48.
FRESHMAN FIRSTS... AND SECONDS: In USC's first win of the year, freshman forward Sam Johnson had her breakout game with a goal and two assists for a four-point day in a victory over Cal State Fullerton. 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 opened her Trojan career going 3-for-3 in game-winning goals. Three GWGs is the 10th most scored by a Trojan in USC history. Samantha Johnson hit her freshman trio during the first week of Pac-10 play with her third goal of the season in a 2-0 win over Arizona. Garcia has since scored her fourth goal as a Trojan, although it would not go down as a game-winner as she punched in the equalizer in an eventual 2-1 loss at UCLA.
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 also have locked in on the Trojan top-10 lists in several different categories. USC's winningest goalkeeper with 42 victories now, Olsen has added seven more shutouts to her total to pad her lead as the all-time career shutouts leader -- a feat secured on Oct. 11 ¬-- as she now holds 28 career shutouts. Olsen also has risen to rank No. 2 all-time in career saves with 247. 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 ranks No. 12 in career points. Dávila and Ohai, meanwhile, also have nowhere but up to go on the career game-winning goals chart. Dávila is now locked up at No. 3 with 11 game-winners just ahead of Tomer's nine; and Ohai has scored 6 so far. Also on the docket 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 21 career goals. Ohai and Tomer have hit the top-10 as well with their 14th goals coming not long ago, putting, Dávila, Ohai and Tomer in an elite group of 13 Women of Troy who have ever scored 14 or more goals in a career.
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).