Aug. 25, 1997
USC Women's Soccer Opens Season at Iowa State, No. 6 Nebraska
THIS WEEK - The USC women,s soccer team, led by 1996 Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year Jim Millinder, opens the 1997 season with road games at Iowa State and No. 6 Nebraska. USC meets the Cyclones on Friday (Aug. 29) in Ames, Iowa, at 3 p.m. CDT, and then the Cornhuskers on Sunday (Aug. 31) in Lincoln, Neb., at noon CDT. The Women of Troy, now in their fifth year of existence, are coming off their best-ever season with a 15-5 record, and went 4-3 in the Pac-10 for a tie for fourth place.
OPPONENTS - USC and Iowa State have never met. The Cyclones were 8-12 in 1996. USC and Nebraska have met once before, a 4-0 Women of Troy win in 1995 at Howard Jones Field. Last season, the Cornhuskers were 23-1, won the Big 12 championship and reached the NCAA quarterfinals. USC junior midfielder Erica De Vitis (Coto de Caza, Santa Margarita High) transferred to Troy from Nebraska after starting the last two seasons there.
FORWARDS - Isabelle Harvey, the 1996 Pac-10 scoring champion, All-Pac-10 first teamer and All-American honorable mention pick, will miss the first few games of her 1997 sophomore year while recovering from knee surgery, so some young players will need to contribute. Sophomore Kaylee Whitfield (Santa Ana, El Modena High) came off the bench last season and scored three goals and had four assists, while Megan Orach (Huntington Beach, Marina High) is a highly regarded freshman. Sophomore Pam Ruark will likely miss the season due to a foot injury.
MIDFIELDERS - This is USC,s most experienced position, with all five starters back as well as the addition of De Vitis. Sophomore Kim Clark, who just came back from the U.S. Sports Festival, could be one of the West's top players. She had six goals and three assists a year ago. Juniors Carol Hatcher and Courtney Barham each earned 1996 All-Pac-10 second team honors a year ago. Hatcher scored 19 points and Barham scored 17. Seniors Brittany McCorduck and Christi Ayala will be looking to start for their fourth and third year, respectively. Two freshmen, Andrea Warner (Dana Point, Dana Hills High) and Ami Aylor (Lake Forest, Santa Margarita High) will try to fit into the rotation.
DEFENDERS - USC is deep at this position, with 10 defenders on the roster. Junior Meghan Reppe (Orange, Villa Park High) and sophomore Christina Kushnir are returning starters. Two top freshmen, Katie Ticehurst (Los Alamitos, Mater Dei High) and Susie Mora (Mission Viejo, Santa Margarita High), could start right away. Veterans include senior Adrienne Navarra and juniors Sharla Chiang, Donna Gayton (Northridge, Granada Hills High) and Karen Norgaard. Shelley Pharris (Anaheim, Villa Park High) and Kristin Trutanich (Rolling Hills Estates, Peninsula High) are walk-on freshmen.
GOALKEEPERS - USC has a pair of talented and experienced goalkeepers in senior Laura Badagliacco and junior Karin Puccinelli. The two were co-starters a year ago, as Puccinelli went 10-2 and Badagliacco went 5-3. Senior Sheri Simala (Fountain Valley, Fountain Valley High) is another veteran goalkeeper.
LAST SEASON - After opening the 1996 campaign with two losses in the first three games, the Women of Troy battled back to post a 6-4 record at the halfway point. USC finished the season on a roll, winning nine of its final 10 games (losing only a 1-0 match to Stanford), including a first-ever victory over rival UCLA, 3-2, at the Coliseum. USC - which set new school records for wins, goals, assists, points and attendance - just missed out on its first-ever NCAA Tournament berth.
COACH MILLINDER SAYS - We're excited to get started. We,ve been playing each other for the last two weeks and we're looking forward to playing someone else. Nebraska is a great team and I expect them to be very focused and very tough. We can,t look past Iowa State because they're also going to give us a battle.0/00