Feature: Crosstown Battle No Longer

Dec. 6, 2007

By Andrew Fischer
Daily Trojan

December 6, 2007

Los Angeles, CA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- Don't call it a rivalry game - at least that is what the USC women's soccer team wants you to think.

When the team takes to the pitch Friday at 4:30 p.m. in College Station, Texas, for the program's first College Cup appearance, the fact that UCLA (20-1-2) will be on the opposing bench makes little difference to the Women of Troy (18-3-2).

'I don't really see it as the crosstown rivalry,' sophomore goal-keeper Kristin Olsen said.

While in his first year at USC, coach Ali Khosroshahin is well acquainted with the Bruins. During his six-year term as head coach of Cal State Fullerton, Khosroshahin was knocked out of the NCAA tournament twice by UCLA.

The clash of cardinal and gold with all things blue, however, is still growing on him.

'I'll admit it, I didn't feel it the first game [we played UCLA], but they've been a thorn in my side since 2001,' Khosroshahin said.

For the Women of Troy, that thorn has been securely wedged in their sides since the two programs first met. UCLA, which has historically dominated the all-time series, posting a record of 16-2-1, is in the midst of an 11-match unbeaten streak dating back to 1998. That year, USC won 5-4.

The teams last met Oct. 26 in Westwood, where the Bruins ended the Women of Troy's 10-game winning streak, 2-0, en route to UCLA's fifth-consecutive Pac-10 title.

'I think definitely us and UCLA are the top two teams in the Pac-10. We haven't beaten UCLA in years; we wanted to make a statement,' junior forward Amy Rodriguez said after that game.

Friday's game pits one of the top defenses in the country in USC against the potent offensive attack of the Bruins.

USC's back four - posting a .507 goals allowed average this season - have yet to surrender a goal in the tournament. The Women of Troy, however, will have to account for the Bruins' dynamic forwards, who average 2.7 goals per game.

Despite UCLA's record fifth-straight College Cup appearance, a Pac-10 team has never won a national title in women's soccer. But with Friday's match marking the first time two Pac-10 teams have reached the Final Four, the conference is the odds-on favorite.

With USC's sights set firmly on the Bruins, Khosroshahin still knows what is at stake.

'You come here to Heritage Hall and you see all of the national championships. Around here, anything less in unacceptable,' Khosroshahin said.

(C) 2007 Daily Trojan via CSTV U-WIRE

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