No. 17 USC Takes Off For Two Matches In Nebraska

Sept. 6, 2006

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THIS WEEK: The No. 17-ranked Women of Troy head back out on the road this week for a pair of nonconference games hosted by Nebraska. USC faces Drake at 2:30 p.m. CT on Friday (Sept. 8) and then plays North Texas at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday (Sept. 10) as a part of the Adidas Invitational in Lincoln, Neb.

RANKINGS: USC's highest ranking in the national polls this week has the Trojans (2-1-1) sitting in a three-way tie No. 17 with Cal State Fullerton and Texas, according to Soccer Times and standing No. 22 in the SoccerBuzz poll. Neither Drake (2-1-1) nor North Texas (2-0-1) are ranked nationally.

LAST WEEK: The Women of Troy were hit with their first loss of the season last weekend, but it was against a formidable opponent in top-ranked Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish were hosting a four-team tournament and opened against USC on Friday (Sept. 1). After standing strong for the first half through 10 Notre Dame corner kicks, the Trojans gave up a pair of goals in the second half and were unable to get enough solid looks on offense to strike back, falling 2-0 to the No. 1 Fighting Irish. Two days later, USC had a far better time on both ends, getting first-half goals from Nini Loucks and Meagan Holmes while the USC defense and goalkeeper Veronica Simonton held Harvard scoreless. With the shutout win, Simonton earned her 16th career shutout to take over as USC's all-time shutouts leader. For her shutout effort and eight athletic saves over the weekend, Simonton was named to the All-Tournament Team along with defender Janessa Currier.

PAC-10 PICK-'EM: In a tight vote by Pac-10 coaches, USC is ranked No. 4 in the Pac-10 Preseason Poll. The Trojans received one less vote than No. 3 Stanford in the coaches' poll. Defending conference champion and NCAA finalist UCLA was tabbed the No. 1 team, and California -- last season's second-place finisher in the Pac-10 -- was selected No. 2. USC, which finished out 2005 with a 6-2-1 Pac-10 record to place third in the conference, received one first-place pick and ended with 62 overall points in this season's poll. Stanford was the Pac-10's fourth-place team in 2005, but garnered 63 points to take the edge over the Women of Troy in the 2006 poll. Coming in at No. 5 is Arizona (49 pts) followed by a tie at No. 6 between Oregon State and Washington State (34). In the final three slots are No. 8 Arizona State (23), No. 9 Washington (21) and No. 10 Oregon (17).

SCOUTING DRAKE: The Bulldogs are 2-1-1 so far this season after tying Marquette 0-0 and beating DePaul 1-0 last weekend. Their one loss was a 3-0 decision to Minnesota. They return six starters from last year's team that finished 11-7-2 overall and placing first in the Missouri Valley Conference. Liz Woerle leads the team in scoring with two goals. Drake is coached by Corbin Stone, who is in his fifth year at the school.

SCOUTING NORTH TEXAS: The Mean Green are 2-0-1 after opening with 2-1 wins over Houston and Texas State and tying SMU 0-0 last weekend. Goalie Kandice Ellis had 13 saves in that draw. North Texas returns 10 starters from last year's team that won the Sun Belt Conference and finished 16-4-2 after a trip to the NCAA First Round. The Mean Green are coached by John Hedlund, who is in his 12th season at the school. Kendall Juett is the team's scoring leader with two goals so far this season.

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS Amy Rodriguez?: She's back! Sophomore forward Amy Rodriguez missed the first several nonconference matches this year while playing in Russia as a member of the U.S. Under-20 National Team at the FIFA Under-20 Women's World Championship. There, she scored two goals for Team USA -- first with the winning penalty kick against Congo during group play and then in the 90th minute of a 4-1 win over Germany in the quarterfinals. The United States finished fourth in the tournament, and Rodriguez is now back in town and set to return to the USC lineup while in Nebraska with the team. It's been a busy stretch for Rodriguez, who also earned her fifth cap with the U.S. National Team this year while in Portugal at the 2006 Algarve Cup, and helped the under-20 team qualify for worlds earlier this summer. Rodriguez was recently named to the 22-player Soccer America Preseason Women's All-American Team.

SIMONTON SHUTS IT DOWN: After last season's NCAA First Round 1-0 win over Gonzaga, goalkeeper Veronica Simonton locked down a place of her own in the USC history books, standing tall as the single-season shutouts leader with 11 in 2005. Last weekend in the Trojans' 2-0 win over Harvard, she catapulted herself into the lead of all USC goalkeepers past and present after notching her 16th career shutout. The effort puts her at No. 1 in the USC history books.

MCKEE MAKES A POINT (OR TWO): Junior defender Laura McKee tallied the first point of her career with an assist on USC's opening goal against UC Irvine on Aug. 27. She later doubled that effort with a second assist on the Trojans' fourth goal in their 4-1 victory.

TANTILLO KEEPS CLIMBING: Senior midfielder Rosa Anna Tantillo has been a presence in USC's history books ever since being named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. Now in her final year at USC, she continues to rack up points and climb the all-time ladders. Her two assists against UC Irvine on Aug. 27 pushed her to rank No. 4 all-time in career assists. With one more assist in Indiana, she moved that total to 19 and took over sole possession of the No. 5 slot all-time in career points (59). She already sits at No. 3 in game-winning goals (10) and No. 7 in total goals scored (20).

PETROSSI ON THE PROWL: True freshman Jamie Petrossi is listed as a forward/midfielder, but she has been a full-time force on the front lines in her first season at Troy. Petrossi has helped fill the temporray void left by last year's freshman sensation Amy Rodriguez while the sophomore spent time with the U.S. Under-20 National Team. Petrossi has been exactly the impact player the Trojans expected. Her speed and skill on the wings has helped open up the attack for USC, and the freshman has already peppered the opposing goal with five shots so far, so her first career goal can't be far off. She even notched the first point of her USC career with an assist in USC's 2-0 win over Harvard on Sept. 3.

BROWNIE IS BACK: A facial fracture suffered early in the 2005 season put the skids on a quick and powerful start for forward Lauren Brown. She had scored three goals on just six shots for the Trojans before being sidelined for the majority of the season after her injury on Sept. 11, 2005. Now, Brown is back on the attack, and she already has garnered a goal and an assist for USC this season.

INJURY REPORT: USC has lost two players to season-stopping injuries suffered during preseason practices. Junior defender Kat Stolpa tore her ACL in her left knee. She had endured the same injury to her right knee at the close of her freshman season. Incoming freshman defender Briana Ovbude will redshirt her first season after dislocating her ankle.

2005 RECAP: The Trojans posted a 13-6-2 overall record in 2005 and made a strong statement in the Pacific-10 with a third-place finish on a 6-2-1 record. A program record 12 shutouts along with an all-time low of 20 goals against and only two tight Pac-10 losses propelled USC into NCAA action, where the Trojans picked up a first-round win over Gonzaga before

2006 PREVIEW: This season's Women of Troy boasts a roster brimming with 16 returning players, including nine starters. Last year's bumper crop of newcomers now have a big year under their belts and return to Troy as 10 older, wiser and sturdier sophomores. Four seniors and four juniors are in line to guide the Trojans, who have four freshmen added to the roster for 2006. Headlining the charge is returning All-American and Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Amy Rodriguez, who starred on the front lines as a freshman, knocking in a team-leading nine goals and earning 25 points. Rodriguez is just one of several Women of Troy who earned 2005 accolades and are back for more. Now a senior, Rosa Anna Tantillo has been hauling in awards and racking up points for USC for years ever since being named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year herself in 2002. The standout midfielder dished up a whopping 11 assists last season and finished second on the team with 19 points to claim both regional and all-conference honors. Three other Trojans also garnered All-Pac-10 recognition along with Rodriguez and Tantillo, showcasing the versatility and depth coming back to the pitch this year. Meagan Holmes, Nini Loucks and Stacey Strong each hold down a different part of the soccer field, and all three were named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team last year. Defender Holmes also racked up All-American honorable mention and was a First Team Freshman All-American. Midfielder Strong received Freshman All-American honorable mention on the national level, and forward Loucks plugged herself onto the All-Pac-10 honorable mention list following a stellar first season at Troy. USC has four seniors on the roster this year. In addition to Tantillo, the Trojan veterans are midfielder Jocelyn Hein, forward Tracy Lansing and team captain, defender Lindsay Parker.

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