Women's Soccer Prepares Gauntlet For No. 5 UCLA

Oct. 21, 2002

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THIS WEEK - The No. 11 USC women's soccer team (8-4-3, 3-1) will battle No. 5 UCLA (11-3-0, 3-1) in a Pac-10 showdown on Sunday (Oct. 27) at 1 p.m. The game will also have Lexus Gauntlet implications with five points going to the winning school in the season-long all-sports contest between USC and UCLA. The Trojans have lost only one game in their last nine (6-1-2) after opening the season with a 2-3-1 record.

RANKINGS - USC is ranked No. 11 in the nation in the latest Soccer America poll and No. 17 by the NSCAA. UCLA is ranked No. 5 by Soccer America and No. 7 by the NSCAA.

NOT AN EASY SCHEDULE - The Women of Troy's schedule is among the toughest in the nation with 11 games against opponents that competed in last year's NCAA Tournament, including national champion Santa Clara and runner-up North Carolina. The schedule is rated as the nation's fifth toughest, according to the Oct. 16 report by www.soccerratings.com. The latest Soccer America rankings as of Oct. 21 show the Trojans playing nine of the top 25 teams in the nation: No. 1 Stanford, No. 2 North Carolina, No. 4 Santa Clara, No. 5 UCLA, No. 7 California, No. 10 Penn State, No. 15 Wake Forest, No. 20 Arizona State and No. 25 Washington

CLOSING IN - Head coach Jim Millinder is one win away from his 100th career win (99-65-13). Millinder, in his seventh season at USC (where he is 91-38-4), has guided the Women of Troy to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances. He spent two seasons at Loyola Marymount (1994-95) before taking the USC position.

BATTLE FOR SECOND-ANNUAL LEXUS GAUNTLET - The Trojans are looking for the possible five points to be awarded in women's soccer in the battle for the Lexus Gauntlet - a season-long competition between USC and UCLA in all sports. This unique program awards points for the winner of each Bruin-Trojan head-to-head contest throughout the year and the Lexus Gauntlet trophy will be awarded to the school with the most points at year's end. USC captured last year's inaugural trophy and the current standings find both teams tied at 5-5.

LAST WEEK - The Trojans went 2-0 on the road with similar 2-1 overtime wins at No. 17 Arizona State and Arizona. OCTOBER 18 AT ARIZONA STATE - Jessica Edwards scored the game-winner with 15 seconds remaining in the second overtime period. The Mesa, Arizona, native scored an unassisted goal on a 50-50 ball in front of the net. Sophomore Ashley Casas scored her first goal of the season off an assist from Ali Fennell. OCTOBER 20 AT ARIZONA - Ali Fennell scored at 93:42 for the Women of Troy's second overtime win in as many games. USC had to play short-handed after Megan Abbamonto received her second yellow card of the match with five seconds remaining in regulation. Jessica Edwards scored her second goal in as many games at 26:19 off an assist from Ashley Casas.

ALI FENNELL - Senior Ali Fennell (Santa Ana/Mater Dei HS) played her first three seasons at USC as a midfielder, but this season is playing as a forward. Fennell recorded a goal in three straight games (Sept. 15-27) and leads the team this season in goals (seven) and points (15). She also leads the team with four game-winning goals, including an overtime winner in a 2-1 victory on Oct. 20 at Arizona. On Oct. 6, she scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win against No. 8 Santa Clara. She has started in every match at USC and has 54 points in her career (22-10=54), good for fifth place on USC's all-time scoring list. Fennell garnered All-Pac-10 second team honors in her first two seasons.

JULIE PETERSON - Sophomore Julie Peterson (Mission Viejo/Santa Margarita HS) has made an impact in her first season as the team's No. 1 goalkeeper. She has a 0.75 goals-against-average in 15 games. She earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors after registering back-to-back shutouts against No. 5 Penn State and No. 2 Virginia at the UCLA Women's Cup. Peterson tied a school record with her third straight shutout on Sept. 13 vs. Vanderbilt, equalling a record set last year by Shaelyn Fernandes. On Oct. 13 vs. California, Peterson set a school record with her seventh shutout of the season in a 2-0 win, breaking the previous mark of six held by Laura Badagliacco (1994), Karin Puccinelli (1998) and Shaelyn Fernandes (2001).

JESSICA EDWARDS - Junior forward Jessica Edwards (Mesa, AZ/Dobson HS) looks to rebound after a difficult sophomore season last year, when she recorded only five points (2-1=5). Edwards is second on the team this season in goals (four) and points (nine). On Oct. 18, she scored the game-winner in overtime with 15 seconds left in a 2-1 win at Arizona State and added another goal two days later in a 2-1 overtime win at Arizona. Edwards earned All-Pac-10 Conference second team and Soccer Buzz Freshman All-West Region first team honors in her 2000 freshman season after leading the team in goals (11), points (29), game-winning goals (4) and shots (97). She set a school record with 97 shots during the season.

MEGAN ABBAMONTO - Junior Megan Abbamonto (Mission Viejo/Capistrano Valley HS) represents the heart of the Women of Troy's midfield after earning All-Pac-10 second team honors last season. On Sept. 6, she scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win against No. 5 Penn State at the UCLA Women's Cup and scored the game-tying goal in the final two minutes of regulation in a 2-2 tie on Oct. 4 against Loyola Marymount. She started in every game last year, recording three goals (including two game-winners).

BEST DEFENSE - USC has scored only 16 goals this season, but the team's strength has been its defense, which has allowed only 12 goals in 15 games. The starting backfield of Kaitlyn Pruett, Nikki Goza, Amanda Roach, Hillary Schwarzbach and reserve Jenna Killion has allowed only nine goals in the last 13 games. The fewest goals allowed in a season by USC is 20, set by the 2001 squad.

UCLA NOTES - UCLA returns four starters and 17 letterwinners from last year's 20-3 squad that reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Jillian Ellis is 74-15-2 in her fourth season at UCLA. Iris Mora leads the team in goals (seven) and points (14). UCLA leads the all-time series by a 9-2-1 margin. This is the first time that USC has hosted UCLA at McAlister Field.

McALISTER FIELD - After sharing the practice field with the football team, the USC women's soccer team moved to its own facility prior to the 1998 season. McAlister Field, located on the corner of 30th and Hoover just north of the USC campus, is the permanent home for the team. USC boasts a 16-5-2 (.739) record at McAlister Field.

LAST SEASON - In 2001, the Women of Troy went 10-7-2 overall and placed fourth in Pac-10 play with a 5-3-1 record. The Trojans made their fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, losing to Pepperdine (1-0) in the first round.

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