Women's Soccer
    2012 USC Soccer Season Outlook

    Ali Khosroshahin has 34 Trojan troops at his disposal for 2012.

    Aug. 14, 2012


    You think USC head coach Ali Khosroshahin is loud? Wait until you hear the Trojan bench.

    The 2012 USC women's soccer team roster is 34 players strong. Twenty of those will be wearing Cardinal and Gold for the first time. And every last one of them aim to make a lasting impression.

    "This team can drown me out from the bench," Khosroshahin said of his vocal battalion of Trojans, whose depth charge of enthusiasm also happens to pair perfectly with a torrent of talent.

    "It's a brand new look and a brand new group." Khosroshahin said. "After all the injuries we had last year, there was a huge need to reinforce ourselves. We feel we've gone out and recruited not only the most talented class that we've ever had here, but also the deepest class. We have been able to bring in reinforcements at every position, and we're very confident in these new players' abilities and their ability to adapt to the way we play."

    So if strength in numbers means anything at all, the Women of Troy are already in good shape. With the influx of newcomers -- an invigorating blend of transfers and freshmen -- an injury-depleted 2011 roster that was dinged up with more losses than USC had taken since 1993 now boasts such a healthy glow that Khosroshahin is certain his 2012 Trojans are certainly set to outshine the competition to come.

    "We're very excited about the potential that this group has shown in the short amount of time that we've been together," he said. "Because it's brand new and because of the experience of last year, we have a group of returned committed to creating the atmosphere they want. And with this large group of rookies that feels unified as a group coming in together, they really understand their responsibility. Everyone is very determined to have an enjoyable experience and be competitive."

    A lot of that drive comes from top, namely from the versatile senior Samantha Johnson, who played in almost every spot on the pitch except for the goal in her junior season to help fill holes left by a vicious injury bug. A striker by nature, Johnson moved to a defensive role last year. But now, with returns and reinforcements bolstering the Trojan back line, Johnson has been freed up to lead her team from a more natural spot in the attack. Now in her fourth year at Troy, Johnson is the reigning veteran to lead by example and by instruction.

    "Samantha is the field general," Khosroshahin said. "She is the coach on the field. It's an absolute treat to sit back and hear her organize and direct the team from the field. She's driven to be successful this year. She wants to leave her mark on USC and she's willing to do anything that the program needs for us to be successful this year."

    Johnson's leadership role and the Trojan chorus of substitutes may well make a lot of things easier for Khosroshahin and his staff -- to say the least of the ease on his vocal chords -- as USC looks to escape the echoes of the 7-13-0 season suffered in 2011 and make some noise in the Pac-12 for this 2012 campaign.

    Here's a breakdown of the positioning for this year's Women of Troy...

    The Trojans tote an arsenal of four goalkeepers into 2012, with two fresh pairs of hands in the mix with returning keepers Carley Pennington and Lindsey Brown. Tabbed for the starting slot is highly touted sophomore transfer Caroline Stanley, whose toughness and athleticism stand strong for the Trojans as she enters her first season of competition at Troy. The Missouri transfer and native has another out-of-state import alongside her in New Jersey product Faith Sugerman, a promising freshman who has impressed Khosroshahin already.

    "We have depth and talent in our goalkeepers," Khosroshahin said. "This is the deepest and goalkeeping crew we've had since we've been here."

    Senior Kristina Noriega wraps up her second season at USC after joining the Trojans as a transfer in 2011. A lofty center back, Noriega was a clutch addition to the defensive staff in the light of a season-ending injury suffered by standout defender Mia Bruno during the spring. Bruno is back as a redshirt sophomore for 2012, locking in a powerful tagteam of experience, skill and know-how to anchor the Trojan back line. Speedy junior Autumn Altamirano answered the call to the back line, bringing a dangerous ability to charge up the transition game to turn defense into an offensive counterattack from the wing. Junior Elizabeth Eddy can fit well into the opposite wing, too, while the Trojans can compliment that speed on the corners with serious size in the center. In addition to the height that Bruno and Noriega bring, USC welcomes a freshman pairing of 6-foot Marlee Carrillo and 6-1 Erin Owen. More new defensive depth also comes from Heather Davis, Jessica Flores, Hannah Moehling, Amanda Mohajer, Dominique Randle and Darrah Shields.

    "It's just about making sure we're solid defensively with as much experience as we can in the back," Khosroshahin said. "We had needs in many different roles and we believe that we've been able to fill a lot of those needs with a good balance of new players and experienced players."

    With the field general Samantha Johnson running the show in the Trojan midfield, USC is already primed with a feisty attack mode. Johnson has a crop of impressive young talent at her disposal as well, with freshmen Jamie Fink and Megan Borman on call to further charge up the midfield and junior transfer Jordan Marada already a proven scoring machine. Junior Haley Boysen returns with a nose for the goal, too, joined by a set of freshmen with midfield prowess in April Juarez, Dana Schwartz and Alex Quincey, not to mention the abilities of juniors Eddy and Altamirano to move up within striking distance.

    "If you look at this group it's a good mix of freshmen and transfers and experience from our own program," Khosroshahin said. "Athletically, technically and tactically this is a very sharp group."

    Cutting their teeth on the front lines in their Trojan debuts are freshman forwards Katie Johnson and Whitney Pitalo, whose addition to the attack Khosroshahin is truly excited about. The fresh feet of those two young talents can be joined by some returning skill in sophomore Elizabeth Caparis and senior Courtney Garcia, with sophomore Jessica Musmanno and Erica Vangsness possible fits with a year's experience at Troy. Newcomer Tamara Mejia can also make an impact up front, as may her fellow freshman forward Arielle Baptiste. Out for the season with knee injuries sustained in the offseason are senior Isabelle Johnson and freshman Jeanette Jimenez.

    "I think Katie Johnsonis one of the best strikers in this class in the country, and Whitney is going to be a very special player for us,"Khosroshahin said. "These players have the ability to create scoring chances on their own. They're hard-working and they're finishers."

    "We're very athletic and we have the potential to have a very potent offense," Khosroshahin said. "It may take some time, but this group has the potential to really knock the ball around.

    "Overall it's a very young and enthusiatic group, and that enthusiasm is contagious with the staff and everyone involved. We're having fun already." •