No. 17 USC Rolls Home For Two Games This Weekend

Sept. 12, 2006

THIS WEEK: The Women of Troy are back in the Pacific Time Zone this week to do battle with Eastern Washington and UNLV back at McAlister Field. USC puts its three-game winning streak up against Eastern Washington at 3 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 15), and then faces UNLV at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Sept. 17).

RANKINGS: USC's highest ranking in the national polls this week has the Trojans (4-1-1) remaining at No. 17 according to Soccer Times, while they have moved up to No. 20 in the SoccerBuzz poll. Neither Eastern Washington (1-4-1) nor UNLV (2-3-1) are ranked nationally.

LAST WEEK: The Women of Troy picked up their first Friday win of 2006 with a dominating 3-0 victory over Drake at the Nebraska adidas Invitational. Rosa Ana Tantillo, Lauren Brown and Kelley Finch each scored in the match as the Trojans took a 2-0 lead in the first half. Two days later, under cloudy skies on a rain-soaked Nebraska field, USC ran its winning streak up to three straight with a 2-0 win over North Texas. The Trojans got a quick start to the match with a score at the 1:37 mark when Nini Loucks finished off a cross from Amy Rodriguez. Rodriguez bumped the Trojans ahead further with a solo score in the 18th minute, and USC held that 2-0 edge for the remainder of the game. Veronica Simonton shared time in goal with USC's two freshman goalkeepers. True freshman Kristin Olsen stepped in against Drake and picked up two saves in a pair of tough one-on-one situations, and redshirt freshman Brittany Massro came in against North Texas and also nabbed her first career save to help USC post its third straight shutout victory.

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 EASTERN WASHINGTON: The Eagles are 1-4-1 so far this season after losing 4-3 in overtime to Boise State and tying Nevada-Reno 1-1 last weekend. Their one win was a 4-2 decision over Birmingham-Southern. EWU returns seven starters from last year's team that finished 4-11-3 overall and placed fourth at 2-3-1 in the Big Sky Conference. EWU is coached by George Hageage, who is in his seventh year at the school. Melissa Guthrie leads the team in scoring with three goals.

SCOUTING UNLV: The Rebels are 2-3-1 after suffering a 3-2 loss to Central Florida and a 1-0 overtime loss to Denver last weekend. UNLV returns six starters from last year's team that reached the NCAA First Round and finished with a 13-7-3 record after placing second in the Mountain West Conference. The Rebels are coached by Katherine Mertz, who is in her second season at the school. Katie Carney is the team's scoring leader with three 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 full-time for USC. 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. Her debut return to the USC roster was a strong one, as the sophomore dished out an assist on the game-winning goal and then scored a solo shot of her own in USC's 2-0 win over North Texas on Sept. 10 in Nebraska.

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. In the Trojans' 2-0 win over Harvard on Sept. 3, she catapulted herself into the lead of all USC goalkeepers past and present after notching her 16th career shutout. The effort put her at No. 1 in the USC history books. She's since shared two more shutout victories for USC, and has been the goalie of record in each of the Trojans' games this year.

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 (currently has 20 assists). With one more assist in Indiana, she took over sole possession of the No. 5 slot all-time in career points (currently has 62 points). And after tallying the game-winner along with another assist in the Sept. 8 win over Drake, she notched her 11th career game-winning goal to stay at No. 3 in that category and strengthen her No. 7 position in total goals scored (21).

PETROSSI ON THE PROWL: True freshman Jamie Petrossi is listed as a forward/midfielder, but she has been a full force on the front lines in her first season at Troy. Petrossi helped fill the temporary 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 peppered the opposing goal with six shots so far, so her first career goal can't be far off. She's had a role in three of USC's goals, notching the first point of her USC career with an assist in USC's 2-0 win over Harvard on Sept. 3, and then tallying two assists in a 3-0 win over Drake on Sept. 8.

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 two goals 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 falling in the second round to Cal State Fullerton.

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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