Women's Soccer
    USC Soccer Opens 2012 On The Road

    Samantha Johnson and the Women of Troy open season in Fullerton on Friday.

    Aug. 14, 2012


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    The USC women's soccer team kicks off its 2012 campaign this week with a busride to Fullerton, Calif., on Friday (Aug. 17). The season opener pits the Trojans against host Cal State Fullerton in a 7 p.m. clash, in which USC will debut a big group of newcomers along with its strong group of returning talent.

    Live stats will be available for this Friday's match. Click on the Gametracker link on the USC soccer schedule page at usctrojans.com to follow along.

    USC is not ranked in the 2012 preseason polls. Cal State Fullerton also is unranked.

    The Titans went 9-8-3 overall and 3-4-1 in the Big West Conference last year. Cal State Fullerton returns 21 letter winners and 10 starters from 2011, including top scorer and goalkeeper Lindsey Maricic. Demian Brown is in his sixth season as head coach at Cal State Fullerton after taking over for Ali Khosroshahin when he came to USC in 2007. USC is 5-2-3 all-time against Cal State Fullerton, including a 4-0 win over the Titans when the teams last faced in 2009 in San Diego.

    USC's tune-up for 2012 came in exhibition action at Cal Poly on Saturday. With a roster packed with 21 newcomers wearing Cardinal and Gold for the first time, all three USC goals involved freshmen as the Trojans posted a 3-0 shutout of Cal Poly in an extended exhibition match in San Luis Obispo. The Women of Troy and the host Mustangs played three 35-minute frames in their first action of 2012. In goal, USC shuffled through three different goalkeepers. With newcomer Caroline Stanley temporarily sidelined, USC started freshman Faith Sugerman, who played 48 minutes and made five saves for the Trojans. Sophomore Carley Pennington stepped in next and made one save in her 34 minutes in goal, followed by Lindsey Brown's 22 minutes to wrap up the match. USC's offensive attack started early, as freshman Whitney Pitalo made her mark with an unassisted score in the fifth minute of play. She put in the rebound of a Cal Poly save to put the Trojans up 1-0. She would serve up an assist later in the action, but USC would add to its tally even earlier. Junior Autumn Altamirano blasted in the padding strike with a score from distance off a setup by freshman Jamie Fink in the 10th minute. Later, in the 54th minute of play, the Trojan newcomers manufactured a freshman-to-freshman score when Pitalo put the ball on the foot of Megan Borman, who beat the Cal Poly goalkeeper one-on-one for the finish and a 3-0 USC advantage.

    USC has two players sidelined for the season after offseason ACL injuries. Senior Isabelle Johnson and incoming freshman Jeanette Jimenez will not participate in 2012.

    USC returns seven of its 11 goal scorers from 2011, including top scorer Elizabeth Eddy, who provided four goals, including two game-winners. Those seven had combined to provide 64 percent of the Trojan scoring load last season. In addition to Eddy, who enters her junior season this year, USC has senior Kristina Noriega and Samantha Johnson and junior Haley Boysen back as multiple-goal scorers in 2011.

    USC's Amy Rodriguez captured her second Olympic gold medal this summer as a member of Team USA in London. An All-American at USC, Rodriguez competed for the Women of Troy from 2005-2008. In her junior season, Rodriguez helped power USC to its first-ever NCAA Championship, as the Trojans won the 2007 title. The following year, Rodriguez had been called up the U.S. ladder to make her Olympic debut. She would go on to serve up the assist on the game-winning goal in the 2008 gold-medal game. In London, Rodriguez played in four games during the USA's run to 2012 gold.

    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. 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.

    The versatile senior Samantha Johnson 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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    USC had a shockingly frustrating season in 2011, taking the second most losses in program history in finishing up 7-13-0 overall. Six of those losses were in one-goal games, and the Trojans would finish eighth in the Pac-12 at 4-7-0. Elizabeth Eddy was USC's top scorer with four goals, including two game-winners. Senior Brittany Kerridge led the pack in assist with nine, finishing with a team-high 15 points. USC would miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004. All-Pac-12 honors went to Kerridge on the second team an honorable mention to Eddy. USC scored 22 goals in 2011 and allowed 35.