Women's Soccer
    2013 USC Soccer Season Outlook

    The USC team is ready to roll for 2013!

    Aug 21, 2013

    There's been some moving and shaking going on at USC. The Trojan women's soccer team has been in the midst of a culture shift, but the dust has settled. And the Women of Troy are now ready to shake things up in the soccer scene.

    What was a young roster with a limited amount of senior leadership in 2012 is now a more experienced and supremely captained group of Trojans in 2013. The bright future to come began to flash late last season, as a tumultuous year began to find some stability at the tail end of Pac-12 play when USC went toe-to-to with its national ranked conference foes and capped the year with an overtime win over then-No. 2 UCLA. That was a long-awaited proof that the Trojans were finally carving their own path, and that the balance of power was finally tipping toward Troy.

    Eight juniors and seniors and 10 sophomores return to provide that core of stability for the Women of Troy this year, joined by a load of 12 newcomers that USC head coach Ali Khosroshahinbelieves present a perfect fit into this new culture club of Trojans.

    "It's a completely different vibe since I've been here," Khosroshahin said. "This is a year where the way we go about our business should be entrenched into the program. We know the type of player it takes to be successful, and at USC it takes a special type of kid. We have a team of believers. A team that wants to represent USC and will do anything to get that job done and accomplish the mission."

    Mission control is largely manned by USC's eight upperclassmen this season. They've been in the trenches for the Trojans as the program took hits and rosters thinned due to injuries. The 2013 USC roster is five seniors strong this year, marking a changing of the guard that has brought some standout leadership to the forefront. A transfer last season, Jordan Marada not only was the Trojans' top scorer in 2012, she has fit into USC's veteran core like a charm, as she takes up her senior season as a Trojan alongside Autumn Altamirano, Haley Boysen, Mia Bruno and Elizabeth Eddy. There are three juniors on the list this year, but only Jessica Musmanno began her collegiate career at Troy. Alex Quincey and Caroline Stanleyplayed their first seasons as Trojans last year, but, like Marada, they've taken a natural shine to Cardinal and Gold as they continue to be key forces in the USC game plan.

    "The older ones have been doing a really good job of getting the younger ones acclimated. They've already done more things to educate the younger ones this year than we probably have in the last two years," Khosroshahin said. "I think as a whole they want it together. It's been good that they've been able to spread out the responsibilities not only to the seniors, but juniors and sophomores. It's all about team this year."

    For the USC sophomore class, freshman year is but a distant memory. The current group, which came into 2012 as a set of 10 new Trojans looking to make their mark. At the close of their first season, they accomplished something that few freshmen classes had managed -- a dramatic win over rival UCLA, which was then ranked No. 2 in the nation. That was the confidence boost the young Trojans needed to charge them up for the next stage in their USC careers, and the 2013 class of sophomores are undoubtedly locked in for more success. Six of them are entering 2013 already with goals on their career count. Katie Johnson had three in 2012, joined by Marlee Carrillo, Erin Owen, Megan Borman, Jamie Fink and Whitney Pitalowith goal tallies last season.

    USC played a program-record nine overtime games last year, going 2-4-3 in that span. What's more, 13 games finished as one-goal decisions, of which the Trojans were on the losing end eight times. In Pac-12 play, all but three conference matches stretched into OT. Safe to say the name of the game this season will be to get the job done in the first 90 minutes, and the 2013 Trojans certainly have the balance, backbone and firepower to make it happen.

    "When you have that many overtime games and one-goal games, and look at how many of these games we dominated until it fell apart, that's attributed to other things than soccer. One of the things was chemistry," Khosroshahin said. "Our chemistry was off, and this year the chemistry feels pretty special. We have a quality group of young women this year."

    USC welcomes 12 new Women of Troy to the turf for 2013. It's a crew packed with talent and potential for immediate impact on the pitch. U.S Under-20 national teamers Mandy Freeman and Kayla Mills and Mexican international Tanya Samarzich may be the headliners, but the 12-pack of new Trojans is clearly deep and versatile. Natalie Donaldsonis the only transfer in the mix this season, as the California native comes back west from Auburn. The rest of the new crew are all freshmen -- a class near the size and with similarly diverse skills to last year's group of now-seasoned newcomers. Khosroshahin's confidence in his 2013 incoming group is already ironclad, as their addition to the roster has only intensified the chemistry of this 2013 Trojan roster.

    "If a team doesn't have a good rapport and good trust, it's hard to fake it in a game," Khosroshahin said. "The commitment level from everyone is very high. They're focused. Their ideas of the game plan are already pretty advanced for this time of the year, so we're excited to see where we can take it."

    Depth has been a luxury that loomed just out of reach of the Trojans the past few seasons. This year, however, USC is cashing in. Even with Jeanette Jimenez and Jensen Toner on the sidelines with injuries, every position is covered, with backup, and further backup for that backup. USC's battalion of forwards make the Trojan front lines especially daunting for opponents. With 10 career goals accumulated in her previous three seasons at Troy, senior Elizabeth Eddy stands out as USC's top gun on the attack. Sophomore Katie Johnson's skill on the ball is undeniable, and she'll again be a lock up front. A starting role is also in the cards for freshman Kayla Mills, whose speed and international experience as a member of the U.S. Under-20 National Team has her prepped for impact as a Trojan. Another freshman with international experience is Tanya Samarzich, who has been competing for Mexico through the Under-17 and Under-20 levels and has also played on the full Mexican National Team. In addition to Eddy, more veteran experience comes from junior Jessica Musmanno, who has a nose for goal along with the strength to get there. Returners Heather Davis and Tamara Mejia, too, are tabbed for duty up front, along with exciting newcomers Savannah Levin, Rachel Smith, Natalie Donaldson and Natalie Gigg.

    "We definitely have depth up front," Khosroshahin said. "They're very dynamic, and I think the depth is going to be a lot for teams to have to deal with."

    The heart of the USC gameplan also happens to boast a powerful beat in the form of seasoned and skilled midfielders Jamie Fink, Jordan Marada and Haley Boysen. That trio provided eight goals and seven assists last season. Now a sophomore, Fink stands tall as the centering force in the midfield, with seniors Marada and Boysen providing further strength on the outside. There's a depth charge in the middle as well. Alex Quincey, who was a quick fit in the midfield as a sophomore transfer last season, brings back her height and savvy, as does sophomore Megan Borman. Quincey and Borman combined for five goals last year in their first season as Trojans. Meanwhile, sophomore Dana Schwartz is in line for increased time in the midfield, and freshman Darya Fentonhas midfield duties on her docket as well.

    "We've got just as much depth in the midfield as we do up front, Khosroshahin said. "We almost feel like we could play one group on Friday and another group on Sunday. Going into this season, this is the first time in a long time that our healthy returners outnumber our incoming kids."

    In past seasons, the Trojan back line had felt almost like a revolving door as injuries peppered the lineup and new faces filled the gaps. For 2013, the USC defense has a shape and a stability that Khosroshahin feels good about. The Trojan defense won't have to be piecemeal anymore. Senior Autumn Altamirano, who was called to defensive duties last season when injuries cut into the depth in the back, returns with her speed and savvy to a defender's role. Fellow senior Mia Bruno is USC's most veteran defender, boasting vision and experience as a defensive anchor. Sophomore Marlee Carrillo reprises her role in the center of the Trojan defense, from which she also manufactured five assists in her freshman season. The youth movement, too, is alive and well in the back to bring even more reliable depth to the defense. Under-20 National Team defender Mandy Freeman has a starting role in her near future as a freshman. Fellow freshmen Moriah Earley and Nosa Ogiamien are also athletic options for the Trojans, accompanied by Dominique Randle, who was sidelined last year by injury. Sophomore Erin Owen was a lock on defense for USC last season, and the 6-1 Trojan returns to the defensive corps along with the speedy and versatile sophomore Whitney Pitalo. That crew will take a stand in front of USC's goalkeeping unit, which led by junior Caroline Stanley, who logged 1,721 minutes of action in 18 appearances last year. She's joined by freshman goalkeeper Ashylnn Ramos for 2013 to form a potent Trojan tagteam in goal.

    "This team has been working really hard, but more importantly they've been working pretty smart," Khosroshahin said. "The determination level that they're showing now is making my job easy right now. The only thing we're worried about it is executing our gameplan, efficiently executing our jobs on the field, and how well we work together. That's it. That's our focus."