Dec. 9, 2007
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COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS - The USC women's soccer team capped off its history-making season with one last huge feat - the NCAA Championship. The second-seeded Women of Troy tacked up their fifth shutout of the NCAA Tournament - an accomplishment achieved by only one other team in NCAA history - with a 2-0 decision over third-seeded Florida State in the NCAA title match on Sunday afternoon at Aggie Soccer Complex in College Station, Texas. The 2007 National Champs end their powerful year with a 20-3-2 overall record after breaking yet another program record with the Trojans' 15th shutout of the season. Head coach Ali Khosroshahin becomes the first coach in NCAA history to lead his team to the NCAA championship in his first season with his program. Scoring for the Trojans in the match were Marihelen Tomer in the first half, and Janessa Currier in the second half.
For their impressive efforts in the Trojans' record-breaking postseason push, five Trojans were named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team. Junior forward Amy Rodriguez was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Offensive Player, having scored three goals during the tourney including her first career two-goal game during USC's 2-1 win over UCLA in the semifinals. Sophomore goalkeeper Kristin Olsen earned accolades as the tournament's Most Outstanding Defensive Player. She had a career-high eight saves in the semi against the Bruin, and helped secure yet another shutout for the Trojans in the championship game. Also named to the All-Tournament Team were sophomore midfielder Marihelen Tomer, freshman defender Kasey Johnson and junior defender Janessa Currier.
In the championship match, USC got back to its solid possession game, controlling the game while the Trojan defense turned away any and all Seminole attacks. When freshman midfielder Ashli Sandoval went down with an injury, the Trojans played a man down for almost six minutes. Florida State pushed back, but Olsen and the Trojan back line were stingy in turning away the Seminole opportunities. Sandoval came back on and evened things up in the 19th minute, and USC was able to get back to business. In the 25th minute of action, junior defender Stacey Strong sent a long ball up into the box, forcing FSU goalkeeper Erin McNulty to make a play on the ball. She knocked the ball off the crossbar, and Marihelen Tomer was there for the rebound, driving a header to the back of the net to lift the Trojans ahead 1-0.
With 16 minutes left in the first half, Kristin Olsen squelched a dangerous FSU strike, diving on a ball before the Seminole forward was able to get a foot on a shot. The rest of the half passed scoreless, and the Women of Troy found a way to become even more powerful in the second half.
The Trojans were effective in controlling the ball throughout the second half. Thanks to a strong midfield effort from Ashli Sandoval and Ashley Nick, and effort on the wings from Alyssa Davila and Tomer, USC manufactured several good looks on the FSU goal. With just 15 minutes left, USC broke through again. Wide on the left sideline, Megan Ohai lined up for a flip throw on goal. Kasey Johnson aimed for a header, but it was deflected out by a defender for a USC corner kick. Sandoval took the ball on the left corner, sending a ball into the box. Janessa Currier got a head on it, and the shot was saved but loose. Currier was right in position for the rebound, drilling a shot that pushed the Trojans ahead 2-0. Florida State was able to earn a series of corner kicks in the final minutes, but each try was turned away by the USC back line.
As time drained, the Trojans saw their 20th win and their first-ever national championship finally coming into focus. The bench cleared, and the celebration of the university's 107th national championship began. USC now has won 21 women's national team championships and 86 men's titles.
USC 2, Florida State 0
USC 1 - 1 -- 2
FSU 0 - 0 -- 0
24:45 - USC: Marihelen Tomer (unassisted)
75:02 - USC: Janessa Currier (unassisted)
SAVES: Kristin Olsen (USC) 2, Erin McNulty (FSU) 4.
SHOTS: USC 18, FSU 11
CORNER KICKS: USC 7, FSU 11
BEST OF THE BEST:
- Program records: 20 wins, 15 shutouts, 13 goals allowed
- Ali Khosroshahin becomes the first first-year coach to lead his team to the NCAA title.
- First team since 2003 to post five shutouts in NCAA Tournament play (UNC had six shutouts in 2003).
- First Pac-10 team to win an NCAA soccer title
- USC is the first school in NCAA history to have soccer and water polo reach the NCAA championship, volleyball reach the NCAA Semifinals, and football play in a BCS bowl game in the same calendar year.
USC HEAD COACH Ali Khosroshahin
"First of all I'd like to acknowledge two of our young ladies that didn't get announced here [injuries], Meagan Holmes and Nini Loucks. They were a huge part of what we did this year. FSU was a very good team. We were fortunate to finish a couple of opportunities today. They're an excellent team, with an excellent coach, an excellent program. I hope it was an entertaining game. I was too busy yelling and screaming to notice if it was or if it wasn't."
on whether or not he's talked to (USC Athletic Director) Mike Garrett...
"Yes. He's very happy. We're going to talk some business this week." (laughter)
on whether or not he is surprised by the national championship...
"You know, when you come out and say some of the things I've been saying through the tournament, like 'nothing else matters than a national championship' and 'everything else means nothing', I really believed it. It just wasn't talk to pump up the team. You seriously need to take a look at our athletic department. It's all about national championships. If we didn't get it accomplished this year, it would have been a huge disappointment and we'd have been working again tomorrow to get back to this point again. You have to have that belief in yourself and in your players. You have to believe in each other and believe in the plan. With this group, it took them a while to start believing but once they started it's been a spectacular run. It's been so much fun. I've enjoyed every second of this tournament. I've enjoyed all the difficulties we've had on the road. That's made this part so much sweeter."
on midfield adjustments...
"Well, we just talked to our defensive midfielders and told them to watch their midfielders. They do a good job of checking back for ball, then they'd lay it off and spin out. When they'd spin out in the first half, we'd step to the ball and she'd (Mami Yamaguchi) be open and they'd play it back to her and she'd turn and run at us. We talked about letting her lay it back and just keep an eye on her. I don't think she was able to run around (in the second half) like she did in the first half."
on playing with 10 on the field for a good stretch of the first half after Ashli Sandoval's injury...
"You know, I was asking myself, 'What the hell are you doing? Get a sub on.' She's such a big part of what we do offensively that it was too early in the half to take her out and it would have really disrupted what we do. We just leaned on the girls to suck it up and be very aware defensively and to get it done."
Did you know (goalkeeper) Kristin Olsen was that good?
"Yeah. (laughter) The first time I saw her play, we said, 'This kid can fly'. Last spring it was very obvious she was going to be the starter for us this year. Here's the thing people don't know about Kristin...when we do field player skill tests, she finishes first almost every time. She's a very good forward too. We've kidded about putting her up top sometimes. She's a very good organizer. She's grown tremendously."
USC JUNIOR FORWARD Amy Rodriguez
on whether winning the national championship is a surprise...
"Like Ali said, he said it through the entire season. At first we had hoped we'd make it to this point. I don't think it'd became a reality until into the playoffs, when we started playing well and we started going round-for-round, and I feel like every game we just took teams apart. With each game we gained so much confidence. What got us through this game was heart and dedication. You guys saw it out there. We just gave it all to the full 90."
on what she expected with a new coach at the start of season....
"We just didn't know what to expect. Last year we didn't have the season we wanted. We were hoping this year would be different and obviously it is. I was excited but at same time a little bit nervous, but I feel like throughout the spring and this season we gained that trust and relationship (between coach and player) which enabled us to have good rapport on and off the field."
USC SOPHOMORE GOALKEEPER Kristin Olsen
on challenges the FSU offense presented and what they did to stop them...
"They had really skilled players up top. We mainly talked to our backs and made sure we didn't give them any space to turn and shoot, not giving them any chances, giving them half-chances, and I think that helped a lot. I think we prevented a lot of shots on goal."
USC SOPHOMORE MIDFIELDER Marihelen Tomer
on the goal...
"I just saw the rebound come off the post and I just said 'I'm going to hit it on the head'. We talk about using our heads in the box, and if you use your head you're going to score goals. So that was my first instinct, was to just hit it as hard as I could with my head. It wasn't very hard but it went in."
FSU HEAD COACH MARK KRIKORIAN
"Certainly we have to congratulate USC on an outstanding performance today. Over the course of the game they were the better team, and the better team won today. I'm really proud of our team. Our kids fought, created good opportunities at different times of the game. And when we did that, their back line was pretty solid and the goalkeeper was quite good as well. This is a funny game. You can appreciate some days are yours and some days are not yours, and I think maybe today was not our day. A lot of that goes to the quality of USC, the organization of of the team, their individual talent as well, and outstanding coaching. We're disappointed the result wasn't in our favor, but we understand that's how this game goes. I'm proud of our team. We put a heck of an effort forth, we just weren't quite good enough today."
on USC's defensive style...
"I think they're very organized, well coached, disciplined in their defending. They're strong and athletic, good athletes as well. Then behind the back line is a goalkeeper who is quite good. In order to break that down and beat that defending you have to be really quite precise. We weren't quite sharp enough in and around the penalty box today, and that's why we didn't put the ball in the net."
on what USC did to shut down their offensive combos...
"We didn't have as much success in finding the seams. Certainly their positioning was quite good, and I thought our movement off the ball wasn't as good today. We did have a couple of times we were able to slip balls through and get people behind, but that was few and far between and that is a credit to them."
on USC pressuring in the midfield...
"We did have a hard time finding those seams and playing through the midfield. Obviously when you're playing in a 4-5-1 as they were, there's more numbers in the midfield and the seams aren't quite as big. But our flank play wasn't sharp enough. We had opportunities where we could have taken them on and created dangerous situations. We had the ball wide and we just weren't dangerous enough times in making penetrating movements and final passes and so on."
on the goals...
"The first seemed like it was somewhat of a lofted ball played in, and maybe there was some miscommunication in the back and the ball was kind of bouncing around, and off the crossbar and back, and the kid finished pretty good. It's one of those things that a little better communication maybe can solve that. On the second goal, the ball was bouncing and our goalkeeper maybe got her hands on it, and another kid tries to clear the ball and we kind of make a mess of it, and their kid finishes pretty nice."
FSU FRESHMAN MIDFIELDER AMANDA DaCOSTA
On frustration of USC playing behind the ball...
"Yeah, it was a little frustrating. For some reason, our movement off the ball wasn't as sharp as it usually is. I think our outside backs did do a good job though of trying to get an attack started."
FSU SOPHOMORE DEFENDER BECKY EDWARDS
On the play of the defense...
"I think it was just little miscommunications, maybe. On the first goal the ball comes off the crossbar and the girl gets lucky and heads it in. I think we were in good shape. On the second goal we weren't as precise in defending."