Mexico Women's National Soccer Team Beats USC, 3-1
Feb. 22, 2008
Leticia Villalplano and Iris Mora scored consecutive goals within a three-minute span late in the game to propel the Mexico women's national soccer team to a 3-1 victory over defending NCAA champion USC in an exhibition match before 3,217 fans in the Coliseum on Friday (Feb. 22) evening.
The Mexican team is in the midst of several friendly matches against collegiate competition as it prepares for April's CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament, where the top two teams will earn a place at the 2008 Olympic Games.
With the score tied at 2-2, Villalplano--who plays at UC Riverside--took advantage of a Trojan misplay in the box and booted in the unassisted goal at 79:25.
Soon after, at 82:38, Mora hit a soft pop shot over charging USC All-American goalkeeper Kristin Olsen. Evelyn Lopez earned an assist on the play by lofting the ball over the Trojan defense to Mora.
Mexico got on the board first at 26:50 when Lupita Worbis took possession of a short USC clearing header and delivered a hard scoring strike from the top of the box. The shot changed direction as it glanced off Trojan defender Janessa Currier and past Trojan goalkeeper Brittany Massro.
USC came out with renewed vigor in the second half after being outshot 10 to 4 in the opening 45 minutes. Megan Ohai tied the score at 60:41 when she headed in Ashli Sandoval's free kick from the right corner.
Ohai had two prime opportunities in the following minutes that were gobbled up by goalkeeper Sophia Perez: a point-blank header and then a shot as she charged through the box.
Mexico outshot the Trojans overall, 15 to 10. Massro had three saves for USC.
"This was a very difficult game for us," said Mexico coach Leonardo Cuellar, who played for his country's men's national team in the 1978 World Cup. "USC is very strong, very physical and they have some excellent aspects to their game. For us, it was about keeping order, staying composed and waiting for our chances. We have fast players and we took advantage of space in the second half."
Said USC head coach Ali Khosroshahin, the 2007 national collegiate Coach of the Year and the first coach in NCAA history to win the women's soccer national title in his first season at a school: "We didn't play at our best, but it was definitely an entertaining match. This was our first game since the NCAA Final in December, so it took us a bit to find our legs. When you come off the high that we're coming off, it's very good to take a lesson this time of year. In the second half, we got our speed going, but we made a couple mistakes in the back and they punished us for it."
The game matched pupil and teacher, as Khosroshahin played for Cuellar at Cal State Los Angeles and then was Cuellar's assistant at the 1999 Women's World Cup (he continues to serve on Cuellar's Mexico staff).
USC was without junior Amy Rodriguez, who is training full-time with the U.S. National Team.
Mexico played without its star, 2004 Olympian Maribel Dominguez, who was playing with her club team. Ranked 22nd in the world (its highest ranking ever), Mexico was the first Spanish-speaking nation to qualify for the Olympic women's soccer tourney, where it advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2004 Games, and also was the first such nation to qualify for the FIFA Women's World Cup when it did so in 1999. Mexico won a silver medal at the 2003 Pan-American Games after taking gold in 1999, with Khosroshahin on the coaching staff.
USC won its first-ever NCAA women's soccer crown in 2007, setting an NCAA record with five shutouts during the NCAA Tournament and setting a USC program record with a 20-3-2 overall record.