No. 3 USC Takes On Two Ranked Pac-10 Squads

Oct. 16, 2007

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THIS WEEK: The No. 3 Women of Troy (10-1-1, 2-0 Pac-10) carry a six-game winning streak into their first Pac-10 road trip of the year with a visit to the Bay Area, where USC will clash with two ranked opponents. The Trojans first square off against No. 14 California (8-3, 0-1) at 3:30 p.m. on Friday (Oct. 19) in Berkeley before heading to Palo Alto to face top-ranked Stanford (10-1-1, 1-0) at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Oct. 21).

RANKINGS: Unbeaten in the past eight games, USC again has risen in the national rankings to boast its highest rank in program history at No. 3 according to SoccerBuzz. The Women of Troy are also slotted at an all-time best No. 6 by Soccer America, and are No. 8 in SoccerTimes, No. 10 in the NSCAA/adidas poll, and strangely sit at a comparatively low No. 20 according to TopDrawer. California weighs in highest at No. 14 according to Soccer America, and Stanford is the nation's top-ranked team in the SoccerBuzz and Soccer Times polls.

LAST WEEK: The Women of Troy picked up back-to-back shutout wins in their first weekend of Pac-10 action, topping Oregon 1-0 and Oregon State 5-0. Five different players scored over the weekend, led by two goals from junior Janessa Currier, who had the game-winner against Oregon and served up the fifth goal of the day against Oregon State. For her role in USC's seventh and eighth shutouts of the year, goalkeeper Kristin Olsen was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for the first time in her USC career. She had two saves against Oregon and three against Oregon State in the shutouts and now ranks No. 8 in the nation with a goals-against average of .422. Against Oregon, USC scored early with Currier's goal coming in the fourth minute, when Megan Ohai sailed a flip throw-in into the box, where the ball was flicked to Currier by Kasey Johnson. That goal stood tall the rest of the way to get the Trojans their first Pac-10 win. Against OSU, USC got a first-half goal from Ohai -- her sixth of the season and third game-winner -- and then went on to tally four second-half goals. Ashley Nick, Lauren Brown and Amy Rodriguez all scored in the game before Currier added the fifth to push USC to its largest win of the year with the 5-0 decision.

SCOUTING CAL: No. 14 Cal enters the week 8-3 overall and 0-1 in Pac-10 play after falling 4-2 to top-ranked Stanford last week. Alex Morgan is the Bears' top scorer with five goals. Head coach Neil McGuire is in his first season at Cal, which went 12-5-5 overall and 3-3-3 in Pac-10 play last season. USC is 6-5-1 all-time against the Bears after a 0-0 overtime tie last season at McAlister Field.

SCOUTING STANFORD: No. 1 Stanford is 10-1-1 overall and 1-0 in Pac-10 play after beating Cal 4-2 last week. Shari Summers leads the Cardinal with five goals, and Kelley O'Hara has four goals and four assists for a team-high 12 points. Head coach Paul Ratcliffe is in his fifth season at Stanford, which went 15-6-2 overall and reached the NCAA Sweet Sixteen after going 6-2-1 in Pac-10 play last season. USC is 3-9-2 all-time against the Cardinal. The Trojans tied Stanford 0-0 (OT) in Pac-10 play and then lost 2-0 in the NCAA Second Round last year.

PEPPERING THE PAC: USC's first half of 2007 has seen several Trojans leap into the Pac-10 rankings. Standing tallest in the Pac-10 stats is goalie Kristin Olsen, who has risen in the ranks, holding the top shutouts mark (6; 0.5 pg), the No. 1 count for goals-against average (0.42) and also is No. 1 in save percentage (.861). Also scattered among the conference's best are a number of USC freshmen. Alyssa Dávila and Megan Ohai are No. 2 all in game-winning goals (3). Ohai also ranks No. 5 in goals (6) and points (15), No. 6 in goals per game (0.5), and No. 7 in points per game (1.25). Ashli Sandoval sits at No. 9 in assists (4). On the goals chart, Dávila is joined at the No. 5 slot by teammates Lauren Brown and Amy Rodriguez with four apiece. As a team, USC is the conference's top team in goals allowed (5, 0.42 pg), is tied at No. 1 in shutouts (8) and is No. 2 in assists (24) and in points (76). UCLA holds the Pac-10's top goal total with 33, followed by 26 from USC and Stanford.

FRESH START: The USC freshman class has wasted no time making an impact. Coach Ali Khosroshahin gave the starting nod to five freshmen for USC's first two games, and all five had a foot in Trojan goals during thosstee opening wins. Megan Ohai topped them all with three goals in two games, including a historic back-to-back game-winner effort. She became the first USC player since 1998 to score three goals in USC's first two games of the year, and is the first-ever Trojan to notch back-to-back game-winning goals to open the season. Her first career goal was assisted by fellow freshman Karter Haug, and the remaining freshman starters also tallied assists in the wins. Alyssa Dávila served up an assist in the 5-1 win over Weber State as well, and Kasey Johnson set up Ohai's third goal of the weekend in the 2-0 win over UC Santa Barbara. Both Trojan goals in the UCSB win were arranged by Ashli Sandoval, who notched assists with her first two corner kicks against the Gauchos. All told, USC freshmen have accumulated a combined 35 points, led by Ohai's 15 and nine for Dávila. Both freshmen hold three game-winning goals apiece to lead the Trojans, and on Sept. 21, Sandoval got in on the game-winning fun by becoming the third USC freshman to get a game-winner with her first career goal at Oakland.

GETTING DEFENSIVE: The Trojan back line has seen some adjustments this season. Offseason surgeries have taken senior Laura McKee and junior Kat Stolpa off the field for much of the year, and a torn ACL (Sept. 14) to junior Meagan Holmes has robbed USC of another experienced member of the stubborn Trojan defense. Even freshman Kasey Johnson was unavailable for the match against Tennessee due to a concussion sustained in the previous game, but still, USC has powered on. Junior transfer Amy Massey stepped in for her first start and went the distance in Holmes' right back slot. Junior Kelley Finch filled in for Johnson and also was instrumental in USC's impressive shutout of then-No. 15 Tennessee. Freshman Karter Haug and junior Janessa Currier have been the mainstays on defense for USC, playing every minute of USC's first seven games this season. Illness sidelined Haug for part of the Michigan game, leaving Currier as the lone full-time member of the USC back line. Joining the back line in recent games has been junior forward-turned-defender Nini Loucks, who brought her speed to the defensive ranks until also being knocked out of the lineup by a knee injury suffered against Oregon on Oct. 12.

NATION'S BEST: For their big efforts in USC's winning weekend against Long Beach State and Portland, junior Amy Rodriguez and freshman Megan Ohai were named to national teams of the week. Rodriguez ¬-- who had a goal and an assist over that weekend -- earned a place on the Soccer America Team of the Week, and Ohai -- who tallied a goal and two assists -- was named to the SoccerBuzz Elite Team of the Week.

ON PACE: Junior forward Amy Rodriguez has made a home in the USC record books for career points (46), goals (17), assists (13) and game-winners (7), and she remains on the rise this season after tallying her fourth goal and third assist against Oregon State on Oct. 14. Senior forward Lauren Brown recently joined Rodriguez in the history books with her 11th career goal against OSU on Oct. 14. She also now holds nine assists and three game-winners for a career count of 31 points.

BREAKING THE CYCLE: After averaging two goals a game during nonconference action in 2006, USC got bogged down in four scoreless ties and only eight total goals scored during Pac-10 play. This season's focus, consequently, is to build momentum on the way into conference action for a strong ride through the Pac-10 and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, where USC has yet to move past a Second Round match. So far, so good, as the Women of Troy have already notched two Pac-10 wins (USC went 3-2-4 in conference play last season) and scored six goals in their first two Pac-10 matches.

SHUTDOWN STREET: Sophomore goalkeeper Kristin Olsen had a hand in two of USC's program-record 14 shutouts last season, but as the starting keeper for all of the Trojans' games this year Olsen has now notched six solo shutouts and two shared. Her first career win came after playing the full 90 against Weber State, and her first solo shutout came on Sept. 2 vs. UC Santa Barbara. Olsen and Brittany Massro shared USC's fifth straight shutout -- a 3-0 win over Long Beach State on Sept. 28 -- with one save apiece.

2006 RECAP: 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.

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