USC Edged By UCLA 1-0 In NCAA Third Round
Nov. 22, 2008
WESTWOOD, CALIF. - The USC women's soccer team took a season-ending 1-0 loss to top-seeded UCLA on Saturday night in the NCAA Third Round. Playing in a damp and cold match in Westwood, the top-seeded Bruins managed a goal in the 13th minute that would stand through regulation, closing out the fourth-seeded Trojans' 2008 season with a 16-5-2 overall record. UCLA improved to 21-0-2 with the win and advances to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the sixth straight season.
USC made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Third Round for the first time in program history. The 2007 NCAA Champions were in their fourth straight postseason and had beaten Boston University 2-0 before advancing past BYU in the NCAA Second Round with a 4-2 penalty kick decision in Provo, Utah, last weekend.
Up against undefeated crosstown rival UCLA in tonight NCAA Third Round, USC faced the same team it beat 2-1 in last year's NCAA Semifinals at the 2007 College Cup. As had happened in that 2007 semifinal, UCLA took the first lead of the game, but in this rivalry clash, USC was unable to get to the back of the net.
UCLA pushed hard from the start, forcing USC midfielder Ashli Sandoval to make a goal-saving clear off the goal-line in just the second minute of play. Sandoval would later blast a free kick on goal for the Trojans, having her try pushed wide by UCLA goalkeeper Ashley Thompson for a USC corner kick. It was one of just two Trojan corner kicks in the game, while UCLA had 10 corner kick opportunities. It was the Bruins' corner kick in the 13th minute that caused the most trouble for the Trojans, however. UCLA sent the ball into the box off the corner, where McCall Zerboni got a foot on it but had the shot deflected, and Kristina Larsen got to the ball amidst a mess of bodies in the box to sneak the ball across the line for a 1-0 UCLA lead.
The Bruins would go on to force seven saves out of USC goalkeeper Kristin Olsen in the first half, out-shooting the Trojans 12-3 in the first half. USC tightened things up in the second half and got a few opportunities, but the whistle seemed to blow against the Women of Troy throughout the half. Late in the game on a USC attack, the Trojans were called for a foul deep in Bruin territory to squelch a strong offensive opportunity for USC.
Sandoval set up a pair of long USC free kicks during the early goings of the second half. Her first sailed 40 yards into the box, where Meagan Holmes got a head on it but had the Bruin keeper get to the ball. Soon after, Sandoval delivered another good ball on frame, and Kasey Johnson knocked a solid header that was saved and cleared by a UCLA defender. During the final five minutes, UCLA had a dangerous chance to pad its lead, but Olsen came up big with two saves on tough Bruin shots to hold the game a 1-0.
Saturday's match marked the final game for seven USC seniors. Six of those players have been at Troy for four years, and as a whole the class of 2005 incoming freshmen have been a powerful part of the USC roster ever since. In four years at USC, seniors Janessa Currier (defender), Kelley Finch (midfielder), Nini Loucks (midfielder), Ashley Nick (midfielder), Amy Rodriguez (forward) and Stacey Strong (defender) have combined for 68 goals and 55 assists, with 19 goals and 21 assists coming off senior feet this season.
This year, USC has scored the third most goals in program history with 51 goals scored in 2008. And with 16 wins tallied this season, USC ties the second-most wins in program history behind last season's national championship run. The Trojans allowed just 18 goals this year, also ranking No. 2 for fewest all-time goals against in USC program history.
NCAA THIRD ROUND
SAVES: Kristin Olsen (USC) 8, Team (USC) 1, Ashley Thompson (UCLA) 3, Team (UCLA) 1.
SHOTS: USC 6, UCLA 17
CORNER KICKS: USC 2, UCLA 10