No. 14 USC Set For Friday's Home Opener

Aug. 27, 2007

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THIS WEEK: The No. 14 Women of Troy kick off the 2007 season with a home opener on Friday and a short Sunday road trip. The first steps for the Trojans on their road through nonconference action sets USC up against Weber State at 3 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 31) at McAlister Field, followed by a visit to UC Santa Barbara at 6 p.m. on Sunday (Sept. 2).

RANKINGS: USC has registered itself on the preseason scene with several appearances in preseason national polls. The Trojans' highest preseason pick has the Trojans ranked at No. 14 according to SoccerBuzz, while they sit at No. 25 in the NSCAA/adidas poll and No. 28 according to TopDrawer. Neither Weber State nor UC Santa Barbara appear in the released preseason polls.

LAST SEASON: The Women of Troy posted an 11-5-5 overall record with a repeat trip to the NCAA Second Round. To get there, USC managed a huge upset of perennial power Santa Clara with a 1-0 win over the host Broncos in the First Round. The Second Round saw the Trojans up against fellow Pac-10 team Stanford, and the Cardinal pulled out the win to cap off USC's NCAA run. USC set new program records in 2006, notching 14 shutouts, including a stretch of six straight shutout wins. USC allowed an all-time low mark of 13 goals against. Pac-10 play was marked with a series of ties, however, which left the Trojans with a fifth-place finish after four scoreless draws for a 3-2-4 record. Season honors went to senior midfielder Rosa Anna Tantillo, who earned All-Pac-10 First Team for the third straight year. Meagan Holmes and Stacey Strong were named to the Second Team, and Lauren Brown and Nini Loucks received honorable mention. Regionally, Tantillo and Janessa Currier earned nods to the SoccerBuzz All-West Region Second Team. All honorees except for Tantillo return for 2007.

SCOUTING WEBER STATE: This Friday's match will be the season opener for the Wildcats as well. Weber State has played three exhibition games so far, falling 1-0 to Utah, beating Utah Valley State 1-0 and topping Southern Utah 4-1. The Wildcats went 10-7-4 in 2006, reaching the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference tournament. Natalie Ellis is Weber State's top returning scorer, with nine goals and two assists in her freshman season. Tim Crompton is in his fourth season as head coach. This will be the first-ever meeting between USC and Weber State.

SCOUTING UCSB: The Gauchos open the season against LMU on Friday before facing USC. UC Santa Barbara is coming off a 2006 season in which it went 7-7-6 overall and 5-1-1 in the Big West to finish tied for first in the conference. The Gauchos' top returning scorer is junior Genelle Ives, who had seven goals and four assists last season. Paul Stumpf is in his eighth season as head coach at UCSB. The Trojans are 4-1-1 all-time against the Gauchos, winning four straight before tying 0-0 last season at McAlister Field.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Two years ago, Ali Khosroshahin already had his eye on the talent brewing at USC. It's just that as an opposing coach, he was working his hardest to neutralize the Trojans' strengths. Today, the tables have turned, and Khosroshahin now has that talent pool at his fingertips, and this time he gets to capitalize on it. As the new head coach of the USC women's soccer team, Khosroshahin -- who brings in a career coaching record of 76-40-6 (.648) -- is at the helm of a Trojan program brimming with skill and potential for the 2007 season. After six years of coaching 45 minutes away at Cal State Fullerton, he had an idea of USC's potential and is now relishing the chance to try his hand at molding the Women of Troy into a force to reckon with. After all, he had managed to edge out the Trojans in NCAA action while coaching the Titans. So who's to say Khosroshahin can't use his powers for good as well?

VIEW FROM THE FRONT LINES: USC's strikers is lined up for power in 2007. Amy Rodriguez is the most obvious mainstay in the Trojan forward line. USC's top scorer as a freshman and the No. 3 as a sophomore when she missed the start of the year while competing for the U.S. National Team, Rodriguez was the top gun in the 2005 incoming class. Fellow junior Nini Loucks and senior Lauren Brown -- both 2006 All-Pac-10 honorable mention recipients -- matched Rodriguez with four goals apiece last season, and both are primed to jam up opposing defenses with their striking abilities. Healthy and fit following knee injuries is redshirt sophomore Marihelen Tomer, who began her path back to greatness last season and continued to work nonstop to increase her minutes on the field. Sophomore Jacquelyn Johnston also returns to the front-line mix for the Women of Troy. And, of course, that's not all... A sharp set of young forwards also enter the mix this season, namely Alyssa Davila and Megan Ohai, along with some extra depth from walk-ons Kate Gong and Theresa Cornwell.

MIDDLE GROUND: The midfield took the biggest hit to graduation in 2006 with the departure of career standout Rosa Anna Tantillo and fellow midfielder Jocelyn Hein. Still well in the mix as always are a strong batch of now-juniors including team captain Ashley Nick -- a reliable distributor and playmaker -- anchoring the core of the field for the Women of Troy. All-Pac-10 Second Team selection Stacey Strong has manned the midfield well for the Trojans, and will be called upon to again help generate a smooth transition for the coming season. Newcomers Ashli Sandoval, Monique Gaxiola and Shannon Lacy also are in line to bulk up the midfield with talent. Sophomore Jamie Petrossi will be a relatively new factor in the midfield, having played at the forward slots in her freshman season. Similarly, junior Kelley Finch will transition to more of a defensive role in the back line after spending the majority of the previous two seasons in the midfield.

GETTING DEFENSIVE: The shutout-savvy Trojan trenches are highlighted by senior Laura McKee and juniors Meagan Holmes and Janessa Currier. 2005 All-America honorable mention Holmes has long had a knack for interrupting even the best-laid plans of attack against the Trojan defense, and Currier's reliability and skill in the back garnered her regional honors in 2006. The 2007 team is hoping to bring back Kat Stolpa, who suffered her second torn ACL just before the 2006 season. A strong defender, Stolpa will be working back into the mix alongside a healing redshirt freshman Briana Ovbude (ankle) and some of the new blood on the roster. Freshmen Kasey Johnson and Karter Haug join transfer Amy Massey as new faces in the defensive corps.

CAGE FIGHTERS: At the last line of defense, as always, stands the Trojan goalkeeping corps. USC boasts a pair of young and talented keepers who stand strong as a potent tagteam of ability to carry on USC's impressive defensive stats. Sophomore Kristin Olsen and redshirt sophomore Brittany Massro both showed their athletic potential in 2006 and will share control of the net for the 2007 Women of Troy.

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