USC To Face Two Ranked Teams In Pac-10 Road Trip

Oct. 25, 2005

THIS WEEK: The Trojans get back on the road this week for a trip north to play Stanford at 7 p.m. on Friday (Oct. 28) and then California at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Oct. 30).

RANKINGS: USC (9-4-2, 3-1-1 Pac-10) is not ranked in this week's national polls. Stanford (8-5-2, 2-2-1) is ranked highest this week at No. 17 by Soccer America, and California (11-2-2, 4-0-1) is ranked highest at No. 9 in the NSCAA/adidas weekly poll.

LAST WEEK RECAP: The Trojans continued their winning ways on home turf with two Pac-10 wins last week. In their conference home opener, the Women of Troy posted their fourth consecutive shutout win at home with a 2-0 victory over Washington State. After a scoreless first half, the Trojans' hard work paid off in the form of a penalty shot earned and finished off by Amy Rodriguez in the 51st minute of play. To further secure the win, Leah Gallegos punched in a goal to pad the lead to 2-0 after taking a forward pass from Nini Loucks with just two and a half minutes left to play. The win marked USC's eighth shutout overall this season, and the seventh complete shutout for goalkeeper Veronica Simonton. Two days later, USC looked to have another shutout in the works when the Trojans went up 1-0 on a sharp header from Rodriguez -- her sixth goal of the season. Lindsay Parker had sent the ball up to Tracy Lansing, who delivered the cross from the right side for Rodriguez. That lead stood strong until late in the second half, when Washington managed a tying goal at the 79:16 mark to snap USC's streak of home shutouts. Still, the Women of Troy staged a comeback effort, as Rosa Anna Tantillo finished off her 10th career game-winning goal off a pass from Leah Gallegos, set up from a free kick taken by Simonton. The winning goal marked USC's third straight score in the final six minutes of play.

LATE-GAME HEROICS: Washington State and Washington were the second and third straight teams to befall USC's second-half pressure. With Leah Gallegos' score in the 87th minute against the Cougars on Oct. 21 and Rosa Anna Tantillo's game-winner at the 84:37 mark against the Huskies on Oct. 23, the Women of Troy now have posted three straight wins with goals in the final six minutes of play. Tantillo tacked up the first of the three with a game-winner against Oregon in the 85th minute on Oct. 16.

TOP HEAVIES: USC's junior/freshman tandem of Rosa Anna Tantillo and Amy Rodriguez have combined for a load of points for the Women of Troy and are ranked No. 9 and No. 8, respectively, in the conference for points per game. With two goals over the weekend, Rodriguez is now the team leader in goals and points with six goals and 18 points on the year. Junior captain Tantillo is right in stride, boasting four goals -- three in the past two games -- and 16 points. Fiery freshman Rodriguez has managed to dish up either a goal or an assist in six of the Trojans' past eight games and 10 out of USC's 14 games this season. Against UCLA on Oct. 7, Rodriguez and Tantillo both tallied assists, which bumped Rodriguez's team-best points total up to 14 on the season and kept Tantillo as the undisputed assists leader with her eighth of the year. Freshman midfielder Stacey Strong is just a step behind in the Trojan points surge with 10.

COMEBACK KID: It's been a while since the Trojans have staked a come-from-behind effort like they did against Oregon on Oct. 16. On Sept. 24, 2004, USC fell behind to St. Mary's and fought back to win in the 67th minute -- thanks to a game-winner from Rosa Anna Tantillo. Over a year later, it was Tantillo again who staked the Trojans to a turnaround. On Oct. 16, after the Ducks put the Women of Troy in a 1-0 hole, Tantillo managed a tying score in the first half and then tacked up her second goal of the the game-winning goal in the 87th minute of play. A week later, Tantillo punched in her 10th career game-winner by breaking a 1-1 tie with Washington to win in the 84th minute of play on Oct. 23.

OFFENSE ON: The Women of Troy had their 10-game scoring streak snapped on the road with a 0-0 tie against Oregon State on Oct. 14, but their production at home has been strong. Since failing to score in their home opener against Florida State, the Trojans have scored 15 goals in their past five home victories. Overall, 13 different Trojans have hit the back of the net this season, and nine have now done it at least twice. USC now ranked No. 2 in the conference with 2.07 goals per game and 2.13 assists per game.

DEFENSES UP: Before coming up against the potent Penn State offense on Sept. 11, the Trojan defense -- with sophomore goalkeeper Veronica Simonton in the cage -- tacked up three straight shutout wins. The last time the Trojans had achieved such a string of victories was in 2001 with three straight 1-0 decisions during Pac-10 play. Against UCLA on Oct. 7, Simonton faced a whopping 24 Bruin shots, and came away with a career-high 11 saves in the tough 3-2 double-overtime loss. Simonton and her defense have now combined for eight shutouts this season and have allowed just one goal in the past three games.

TANTILLO TERRITORY: Junior midfielder Rosa Anna Tantillo continues to climb the USC charts. Her game-winning goal against Washington on Oct. 23 bumped the team captain to 16 points on the season and 53 career points to hold her at No. 6 all-time at USC. Even more impressive is Tantillo's game-winning goal tally, which ballooned to 10 career game-winners to lock Tantillo at No. 3 in the Trojan history books. And with her assist against UCLA on Oct. 7, Tantillo -- USC's 2004 scoring leader -- improved her single-season assist total to eight to re-tie current assistant coach Isabelle Harvey's assist mark set her junior season onfield for the Women of Troy. The single-season mark locks Tantillo in the all-time top 10 with the sixth best total. At this pace, Tantillo is on track to launch herself past Harvey's other single-season assist marks of 12 and 11 set during her career on the field for the Women of Troy. Now with 13 career assists, Tantillo still has some catching up to do to reach Harvey's historic top mark of 39 career assists.

GONE IN 16 SECONDS: Tracy Lansing's goal against Georgia on Sept. 16 marked a new school record for the fastest goal scored in a game. Just 16 seconds into play, Lansing finished off a pass from Amy Rodriguez, who received an early feed from Stacey Strong, eclipsing the previous fastest mark of 36 seconds set in 2003. In USC history, the Trojans have scored in the opening minute of play four times (2005, 2003, 1998, 1997).

STANFORD NOTES: The Cardinal (8-5-2, 2-2-1) got stuck with a tie and a loss last week, coming up even at 0-0 against Arizona State and then falling 2-1 to Arizona. USC is 2-8-1 all-time against Stanford. The Cardinal won last year's meeting 1-0, and the Trojans last beat Stanford in 1998 with a 2-1 win. Stanford returns seven starters and 13 letterwinners from last year's team that went 13-6-3 overall and 4-3-2 in Pac-10 play to finish tied for fourth before reaching the NCAA second round. Paul Ratcliffe is in his third year as head coach at Stanford. Lizzy George and Leah Tapscott are the team's leading scorer with three goals apiece on the season.

CALIFORNIA NOTES: The Bears (11-2-2, 4-0-1) are one of two undefeated Pac-10 teams, having tied Arizona 0-0 and beaten Arizona State 1-0 last week. USC is 6-4 all-time against California, with Trojans winning the past three meetings, including last year's 2-1 overtime decision. California returns all 11 starters and 17 letterwinners from last year's team that went 11-6-3 overall and 4-3-2 in Pac-10 play to finish tied for fourth in the conferece before reaching the NCAA first round. Kevin Boyd is in his ninth year as head coach at California. Liz Eisenbergis the team's leading scorer with six goals on the season.

GALLEGOS GETS GOING: After being sidelined for the start of the 2005 season, senior transfer Leah Gallegos has jumped right back into her position as an impact player in the front lines. Gallegos set numerous records at Flordia State before tearing her ACL and then choosing to come back home to Los Angeles for her senior season. She got her first start and first goal of the season against Long Beach State on Sept. 27. Since then, Gallegos was in the starting lineup for three straight games and made a distinct impression on opposing defenses last weekend with another goal and assist against Washington State and Washington, respectively.

LECHE LIGHTS IT UP: Jocelyn Leche took another step up in the USC history books with a Sept. 18 game-winning goal on her perfect corner kick score against Oakland. The goal marked her third career game-winning score -- good enough to lift her to the ninth-best total on the USC career leaderboard.

STRONG MOVES: With her goal just 78 seconds into the game against UCLA on Oct. 7, freshman midfielder Stacey Strong moved up to tie with fellow freshman Amy Rodriguez as the team scoring leaders with four goals apiece. That goal was Strong's fourth in the past five games, and Strong continued her effective play on Sunday (Oct. 16) with her second assist of the season against Oregon. Strong has served up either a goal or an assist in six of the past eight games.

STARTING FRESH: Six freshmen have stepped in with starting roles in their first seasons as Women of Troy. Five -- Meagan Holmes, Nini Loucks, Ashley Nick, Amy Rodriguez and Stacey Strong -- got starting nods in the season opener.

2005 SEASON PREVIEW: The 2005 Women of Troy are a dynamic blend of veteran players and new talent. The Trojans' 12 newcomers were heralded as the top recruiting class in the nation, joining a core of veteran talent including junior leading scorer Rosa Anna Tantillo, senior defenders Hillary Schwarzbach and Jocelyn Leche and sophomore goalkeeper Veronica Simonton. New to the USC coaching staff is four-time All-American Isabelle Harvey, who completed her Trojan playing career in 2000. Headlining the group of incoming talent are a pair of freshmen with U.S. national team experience -- forward Amy Rodriguez and defender Meagan Holmes -- and Florida State transfer Leah Gallegos. The returning talent and fresh faces have already commanded the respect of the powers that be, as the Women of Troy have racked up a No. 18 national ranking and the No. 2 pick in the Pacific-10 Conference coaches poll.

McALISTER FIELD: Beginning with the 1998 season, the USC women's soccer team no longer had to share a practice field with the football team, as the Women of Troy received a field all their own. USC played part-time on McAlister and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum until 2002, when the team began playing all its home games at the new facility. USC boasts an 25-10-5 (.688) record at McAlister Field.

LAST SEASON: In 2004, the Women of Troy missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years after finishing tied for 8th in the Pac-10 with a 3-6-0 record. USC won five straight games in September and October, but lost its last four conference games to finish at a 9-9-1 overall mark.

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