Women of Troy open 2010 ranked No. 19 in the nation; home opener is Aug. 20
2010 MEDIA GUIDE (PDF)
Aug. 12, 2010
As decades go, Ali Khosroshahin has had one for the record books. Entering year 10 of his collegiate coaching career, Khosroshahin is at the helm of a nationally ranked program with one NCAA championship under his belt, national coach of the year honors to his name and a stretch of postseason appearances. Now in his fourth season as the head coach at USC, Khosroshahin has his Women of Troy in good position for a run at yet another long, winning season.
The USC women enter their 2010 campaign ranked No. 19 in the nation's preseason poll. Four players remain from the Trojans' 2007 NCAA Championship team, providing an anchor of talent and experience around which Khosroshahin has built a powerhouse of potential for the season to come. Including senior strikers Alyssa Dávila and Megan Ohai, the Trojans return all but one goal scorer from last year. Dávila led them all with nine goals, heading up a group of 10 players to get to the back of the net. Nine of those remain, hauling back a good 87 percent of the Trojan scoring load to the pitch for 2010.
"It's definitely a good sign to be able to return almost 90 percent of your goals and to bring in an attacking group like we've brought in," Khosroshahin said. "It's going to be exciting to see what we can do. The group we have is very versatile and allows us to do a lot of things, and this freshman class is predominantly an attacking group."
In breaking down the 2010 Trojan roster, there is a clear balance of power. Seniors Dávila, Ohai and Karter Haug offer up winning experience from front to back, with star midfielder Ashli Sandoval slated to return as a redshirt junior after being sidelined last year by knee injury. Together, the foursome boasts a national championship as well as a wealth of experience to anchor this year's lineup. Dávila and Ohai will headline the front lines, with Sandoval shining in the middle and Haug in command of the defense. And with those linchpins in place, the 2010 Trojan gameplan takes powerful shape...
Over half of USC's goals last season came from the feet of returning strikers Alyssa Dávila, Samantha Johnson and Megan Ohai. Seniors Dávila and Ohai are already locked into the USC record books for career scoring totals, and the pair are poised to climb even higher this year. Now a sophomore, Johnson's firepower is no secret, but the strong forward is in even better position to pack a punch at the top for USC this year along with Dávila and Ohai.
"I think we've got a lot of quality up there," Khosroshahin said of the forwards. "Right now, Dávila is playing out of her mind. I think people are going to be impressed and excited to watch her. Ohai is a seasoned veteran now. She has a great understanding of how we play and how we train. We're really depending on her intelligence and leadership to help certain new players adapt and adjust to the plan. I think we're going to see a different Ohai than we've seen in the past three years. She has a better understanding, and more consistency and composure."
The wisdom and skill of USC's senior strikers star in a younger lineup of forwards. Johnson was a Pac-10 All-Freshman Team honoree last year, and she has a set of newcomers to follow in her footsteps. A forward with youth national team experience, true freshman Haley Boysen offers a talented and speedy option for the front line, along with the addition of Isabelle Johnson in her first season as a Trojan.
"Sam is settling into the way we do things. I think this year she is more prepared, and her fitness and understanding have improved," Khosroshahin said. "Isabelle is a very skillful walk-on who is adjusting to the pace and physical demands of the Division I game. And Haley could be one of the most exciting players to watch. She's extremely skillful and deceptively quick. The ball is like Velcro on her feet and she can dance with it."
Fancy footwork will not be contained to USC's strikers on point, however. The Trojan midfield is as diverse in its abilities and as focused on crafting a potent attack as anyone else in the business. In fact, the USC central midfield is incredibly solid, thanks in large part to the return of Ashli Sandoval, an All-Pac-10 honoree who was sidelined by knee injury early last season. The savvy midfielder is eager to get back on the pitch to kickstart the Trojan gameplan and continue her climb in USC's record books. Entering this redshirt junior season, Sandoval has served up 21 career assists to rank No. 4 all-time at USC.
While Sandoval was out of the mix last year, the midfield was controlled largely by Carly Butcher and Brittany Kerridge. Now juniors, that tandem boasts experience and reliability in their roles in the midfield.
"We have a good mix of returners and youth that gives us some depth in the midfield," Khosroshahin said. "I think Carly Butcher is one everyone is going to be impressed with this year. Her work rate and her strength has improved so much that for the first time since Ashley Nick graduated, I think we my have a real presence in midfield like Ashley was. Kerridge is consistent and solid in her vision and her skill and her work rate. She was the player that connected us all over the field. She started as a freshman, and her experience is invaluable to the way we want to play this year.
"Losing Sandoval last year was a really big blow to our team and program. To have her back is very exciting for us. She brings a dimension to the team that we haven't seen in a few years because she has such a strong understanding of the game. She can perform under pressure and make things happen from nothing."
On the younger side of the Trojan midfield is a pair of freshmen who bring physicality and energy to USC's strategic center. Autumn Altamirano and Allie Harrison are both slated to see time onfield, with Harrison also a potential fit at center back as well.
"Autumn and Allie are two extremely talented young players that will have an immediate impact on our program," Khosroshahin said. "Autumn plays like she's 5-10. She's tough as nails, good in the air and extremely skillful. Allie gives us that tall, physical presence in the center of the park. She's also strong in the air and skillful."
On the flanks of the USC midfield will be a couple familiar faces to go along with the new ones. Speedy wings abound on the outside, with junior Ashley Freyer holding veteran status. Her speed also makes her a potential fit on the back line, but with a knack for the attack, Freyer fits in well as an outside mid. Courtney Garcia scored some big goals for the Trojans last year as a true freshman, giving her some confidence to go along with added experience for her return to the roster. And you didn't see her on the pitch last season, but Morgan Morrow came back from knee injury in the spring and has blended in quickly and successfully to USC's offensive onslaught as she enters her first season of action.
"We have some serious pace on the outside, players with an attacking mentality that like to take people on one-on-one," Khosroshahin said. "Playing on the outside will help Freyer see the game and make her role easier than playing in the middle. She's played at outside back as well and done very well at that role. Last year we threw Garcia into the fire and she responded really well. She grew a lot in the offseason and has a much better understanding of how we play and what her role is in the way we play.
"We were extremely disappointed that Morgan got hurt before she got here. We had expected her to have an immediate impact. All it does is bolster this year's class to add her to our freshman class. She played through spring and is another speedy aggressive player that likes to take people on and score goals."
Along with returner Lainie Ransom and walk-on Allison Dorr, USC has true freshman Elizabeth Eddy geared up to blaze a trail toward goal this season. Coming from a long line of Trojan alums, Eddy also brings a dose of experience with the U.S. Under-20 National Team.
"Lainie has committed herself to becoming the best athlete she can be. She's really dedicated herself to the sport and our program. And Allison will give us the necessary depth in midfield," Khosroshahin said. "Eddy brings international experience to the team. She's an exciting player to watch. She has one pace, and that's fast."
Inside and out, the USC defense has impressive balance. Along with senior Karter Haug's masterful ability to move wherever needed during her three seasons in the back, juniors Chelsea Buehning and Claire Schloemer are again locked into the defense. Buehning's booming left foot makes her a staple on that side of the field, while Schloemer mans the middle once more.
"Karter has been the backbone of the defense since her freshman year and is a steady force back there for us," Khosroshahin said of his senior defender. "Chelsea has a much better understanding of her role in the back and of her responsibility in the attack. She's a solid attacking option out of the back and has become a solid defender.
"Claire was thrown into a starting role last year and she learned a lot from [graduated center back] Meagan Holmes. Claire throws her body around without any regard to injury and will sacrifice herself for the team. Her play has really improved and she has a much better understanding of our defensive gameplan, and she's developing a good understanding of her role in the attack."
Following the graduation of All-American defender Holmes, added stability comes from the new addition of Mia Bruno, an 18-under U.S. national team pool player, along with the possible insertion of her fellow freshman Harrison or even the experienced Sandoval into the back line.
"Mia brings international experience to the team and is a solid defender who can play the outside or the middle," Khosroshahin said of Bruno. "She's very versatile."
The question mark left on USC's roster had been lingering around the goalkeeping slot left open by the graduation of All-American Kristin Olsen and backup Brittany Massro. Khosroshahin considers the problem solved. The Trojan goalkeeping corps is back up to three, with Shelby Church holding the reins for the starting slot and Emily Miller and Anne Turner both standing tall as talented options between the pipes.
"I'm excited for the goalkeeping corps that we have now," Khosroshahin said. "Church comes in with a great deal of experience and athleticism. The biggest similarity between her and Olsen is how comfortable she is with the ball at her feet. She also started out playing on the field, but she has soft hands and is a good athlete. Emily is very talented. She's an athlete, a scholar, an artist and a musician, and she has all the tools to compete for the starting goalkeeper position. And Anne is very athletic and has great size for the goal."
GET TO THE GAMES!
Fans will have plenty of chances to catch the 2010 Women of Troy in action this season. USC's home opener is coming fast, as the Trojans host San Diego at 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 20 at McAlister Field.
All season long, kids 12 and under get free admission to USC home games when they wear their youth soccer jersey. The Trojans have seven games set for McAlister Field, and two will be held on the historic stage of the Los Angeles Coliseum --- October 8 vs. Stanford and Oct. 22 vs. UCLA.
The match against the Bruins will be Break the Record Night at the Coliseum, as we seek to bring a record-breaking crowd to watch the USC-UCLA clash. Two years ago, a record crowd of 7,804 fans showed up at the Coliseum for the 2008 women's soccer crosstown showdown, marking the largest attendance ever at a USC-UCLA women's soccer match -- beating the crowd that saw USC's 2-1 victory over UCLA in College Station, Texas, at the 2007 NCAA semifinal -- and obliterated the previous USC record for attendance at a soccer game. There will be prizes and giveaways throughout this season's USC-UCLA match, so mark your calendars now for October 22 to help us make history!