No. 4 USC Sets Up For Arizona and ASU This Week

Oct. 30, 2007

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THIS WEEK: The No. 4 Women of Troy (11-2-2, 3-1-1 Pac-10) settle in for their final home stand this weekend, hosting a pair of Pac-10 games at McAlister Field, where the Trojans are unbeaten this year. USC first faces Arizona (6-10-1, 1-4-1) for a 3 p.m. match on Friday (Nov. 2), and then play Arizona State (9-7-1, 3-2-1) at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Nov. 4). The Trojans will honor their two graduating seniors on Sunday as well. USC is currently tied for second place in the Pac-10 at 3-1-1 with 10 points along with Washington State.

RANKINGS: USC remains a top-10 team this week in most polls, topping out at a No. 4 rank according to SoccerBuzz. The Women of Troy are also slotted at No. 6 by SoccerTimes, No. 9 by Soccer America, and are No. 11 in the NSCAA/adidas poll. Neither Arizona nor Arizona State are ranked.

LAST WEEK: The Women of Troy had their 10-game unbeaten streak snapped last week by top-ranked UCLA. The Bruins managed a pair of goals in the second half to break a 0-0 lockup at halftime, and the Trojans were unable to answer with a score for the first time since a scoreless tie against Tennessee on Sept. 16. The Trojans put forth a strong first half, maintaining good possession and keeping the Bruins quiet on offense, but the Pac-10's top offensive team struck twice in the second half ¬-- first with a goal from national scoring leader Lauren Cheney in the 51st minute, and then on a strike from Canadian national teamer Kara Lang in the 65th minute. USC goalie Kristin Olsen came up with five saves in the game to tie a career-high. Only two teams have managed two goals against the Trojans this season -- Indiana and UCLA -- and both were USC losses.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: Arizona holds a 6-10-1 overall record and a 1-4-1 mark in conference play after losing 3-1 to Stanford and falling 2-0 to Cal last week. Jasmin Day and London King lead Arizona with four goals apiece. Head coach Dan Tobias is in his fifth season at Arizona, which went 8-10-2 overall and 1-6-2 in Pac-10 play last season. USC is 9-3-1 all-time against the Wildcats after a 0-0 overtime tie last season in Tucson.

SCOUTING ASU: Arizona State enters the week 9-7-1 overall and 3-2-1 in Pac-10 play after falling 3-1 to Cal and tying Stanford 0-0 last week. Karin Volpe leads the Sun Devils with four goals and two assists for 10 points, matching Kylla Sjoman's 10 points on two goals and six assists. Head coach Kevin Boyd is in his first season at ASU, which went 8-8-3 overall and 3-5-1 in Pac-10 play last season. USC is 9-2 all-time against the Sun Devils, having won the past two meetings including last year's 1-0 win in Tempe.

PEPPERING THE PAC: USC run to an 11-2-2 record has seen has seen several Trojans highlight the Pac-10 rankings. Standing tallest in the Pac-10 stats is goalie Kristin Olsen, who has risen in the ranks, tied with the most shutouts (6) and second in shutouts per game (0.40) and in goals-against average (0.54) and also is No. 2 in save percentage (.822). Also scattered among the conference's best are a number of USC freshmen. Alyssa Dávila and Megan Ohai are No. 4 in game-winning goals (3). Ohai also ranks No. 7 in goals (6) and points (15), No. 9 in goals per game (0.40), and No. 9 in points per game (1.00). Ashli Sandoval stands at No. 6 in assists (5) and assists per game (0.33). On the goals chart, No. 7 Ohai is joined by teammates Lauren Brown and Amy Rodriguez at No. 10 with five apiece. As a team, USC has the conference's top defense in goals allowed (8, 0.53 pg) and in shutouts (9). Offensively, USC ranks No. 2 in all categories: shots (16.53 pg), points (87, 5.80 pg), goals (30, 2.00 pg) and in assists (27, 1.80 pg).

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 those 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 38 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. Haug also recently tallied her first career goal with a score against Cal on Oct. 19.

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 (49), goals (18), assists (13) and game-winners (7), and she remains on the rise this season after tallying her fifth goal against Stanford on Oct. 21. Senior forward Lauren Brown recently joined Rodriguez in the history books with her 12th career goal against Cal on Oct. 19 and two assists over that weekend. She now holds 11 assists and three game-winners for a career count of 35 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, was 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 three Pac-10 wins and a 1-1 tie (USC went 3-2-4 in conference play last season) and have scored 10 goals in their first four Pac-10 matches before suffering their first loss in 11 games to top-ranked UCLA last weekend.

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 three 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, and Massro came up big with a penalty-kick save against Cal to lock away USC's ninth shutout of the year.

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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