USC Knocks Off No. 3 Santa Clara In NCAA First Round
Nov. 10, 2006
SANTA CLARA, CALIF. -- The USC women's soccer team was far from intimidated by No. 3-ranked and top-seeded Santa Clara when they took on the Broncos in the first round of NCAA action on Friday. With the Trojan defensive lines turning away each and every Santa Clara attack, the USC's patience and possession game won out in the end when sophomore forward Amy Rodriguez slotted a nearpost score in the 87th minute to get the Trojans on top 1-0 and secure USC's third consecutive win over the Broncos. The victory lifts USC to 11-4-5 overall and puts the Women of Troy in their second straight NCAA Second Round match. The Trojans will face Stanford at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Nov. 12) at Santa Clara's Buck Shaw Stadium.
"We knew how diffiicult it would be out here today," USC head coach Jim Millinder said. "We dodged a couple bullets from them, and they dodged a few from us. We knew it would take at least a full 90 minutes out here."
In a game of noticeable momentum shifts, the Trojans came out strong and controlled the early goings of the game, but Santa Clara pushed back as well. In a tightly fought first half, the Women of Troy came out ahead in the shot count, edging the Broncos 4-3. Both defenses were stubborn, pulling opposing strikers offisides four times each in the half, while also turning away a number of attacks. USC goalkeeper Veronica Simonton was aggressive, coming out to squelch several dangerous Santa Clara crosses and gathering in a loose ball in the 42nd minute.
Simonton and her defense was put to the test several more times in the second half, when the Broncos seemed to turn up the pressure and generated seven more shots. One of those was as dangerous as it gets. In the 56th minute, USC defender Janessa Currier was carded for a foul in the box. Santa Clara's Marian Dalmy lined up for the ensuing penalty kick against Simonton. Her shot was directed toward the top left corner, but the ball slammed off the crossbar, denying the Broncos a go-ahead score in the second half.
Santa Clara's next best opportunity came on a corner kick in the 68th minute when Jordan Angeli delivered a solid header that Simonton made the save on. The Trojans were unphased by that close call, however, and countered right back. As the pressure mounted on both teams, USC continued to charge forward. As the threat of overtime drew closer, USC stepped up. Senior defender Jocelyn Hein got deep in Bronco territory on the right side and served a ball into the box in the 87th minute of play. Her centering pass was headed by a Santa Clara defender and stolen quickly back by Rodriguez, who saw a shining opportunity and delivered with a nearpost score for a late 1-0 USC lead. Santa Clara tried for the equalizer when Angeli took a strong shot off a flip throw-in, but another athletic diving save form Simonton silenced the Broncos.
"I'm very proud of us all," Simonton said. "We knew what we were up against and we fought through it. We didn't want it to end tonight for our seniors, and we stayed focused through 90 minutes."
USC put forth a total team effort on the field on Friday night. In doing so, the Trojans secured back-to-back trips to the NCAA Second Round, as well as their 14th shutout of the season. The upset was also USC's first win over a ranked team this season. Rodriguez's goal was her fourth of the season and sixth career game-winning goal to rank her No. 7 all-time in USC's history books. She also now ranks No. 10 in career goals with 13. Simonton now holds 25 career shutouts, including 11 this season to tie her mark from last year.
Stanford beat Nevada 2-1 in Friday night's NCAA First Round match to move into the second round against the Trojans. USC and Stanford battled to a 0-0 overtime tie during Pac-10 play this season.
USC 1, No. 3 Santa Clara 0