No. 25 USC Rolls Into Showdown With Sooners
Women of Troy hold a six-game unbeaten streak entering Friday's home match against Oklahoma.
Sept. 14, 2010
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USC women's soccer stays home for another weekend, setting up at McAlister Field for a single-game stint this week. The Women of Troy (4-1-2) carry a six-game unbeaten streak into this week's match, which puts USC up against Oklahoma in a 3 p.m. clash on Friday (Sept. 17).
USC opened 2010 as the nation's No. 19 ranked team in the NSCAA preseason poll and No. 20 in the Soccer America preseason poll. With their opening loss, however, the Trojans slipped out of the rankings, but they are back up in the rankings this week. USC weighs in at No. 25 according to NSCAA and Soccer America, and is No. 23 in the Soccer Time poll. Oklahoma is unranked this week
Live stats will be available for Friday's USC-Oklahoma game at the Trojan Invitational this weekend. Click on the Gametracker link for the game on the USC soccer schedule page at usctrojans.com.
The Sooners are 3-2-1 after a split last weekend, losing 3-2 to Missouri State and beating Rice 1-0. Last year's top scorer with 15 goals, Whitney Palmer remains Oklahoma's leading scorer this season with three goals and an assist to date, and goalkeeper Kelsey Devonshire has 29 saves and six goals allowed in her six appearances. Head coach Nicole Nelson is in her third season as head coach of the Sooners, which went 7-10-2 overall and finished 10th in the Big 12 last year. USC is 1-0 all-time against Oklahoma after facing the Sooners for the first time last season in Norman, Okla. The Trojans won that one 1-0 on a goal from Courtney Garcia in the 9th minute of play.
USC claimed its second straight tournament title, adding to the previous week's win at the Under Armour Invitational in Fullerton, Calif., with a winning run through its own Trojan Invitational. A 1-0 overtime win over No. 21 Auburn and a 3-1 win over Northern Arizona solidified the tourney title for the Trojans, and pushed their undefeated streak out to six games. Against Auburn, USC outplayed the Tigers, but held back its heroics until overtime. After scoreless regulation play in which the Women of Troy had the Tigers doubled up in the shooting column, freshman Haley Boysen broke through with her first career goal as a Trojan to net a 1-0 win for USC early in the first overtime period. That secured another shutout for USC -- the third straight and fourth of the season for the Trojans and freshman goalkeeper Shelby Church. Two days later, that shutout streak was snapped with NAU's goal in the 64th minute, although the game was even more of a breakthrough for the Women of Troy. In USC's most productive scoring game of the year, three new Trojans got in the scoring column for the season. Samantha Johnson, Ashley Freyer and freshman Mia Bruno each knocked in goals for USC in the win, while Church accumulated six saves in goal. Boysen delivered assists on two of those goals, while Karter Haug had the assist on Freyer's game-winner. For their efforts in charging up USC to a winning weekend, four Trojans were named to the Trojan Invitational All-Tournament Team: Haley Boysen, Alyssa Dávila, Samantha Johnson and Morgan Morrow.
SANDOVAL STRIKES BACK
In her first game action in almost a year since suffering a torn ACL last season, redshirt junior midfielder Ashli Sandoval scored in back-to-back games upon returning to the field during USC's road trip through Texas. Sandoval came through with the game-winner at TCU in her 2010 debut, and against Texas, she provided heroics once again in scoring the equalizer in the 87th minute to lock up the Longhorns 1-1. She sustained an ankle injury following the game-tying strike, however, and was sidelined for USC's next two games in Fullerton, Calif. The midfielder returned to game action on Sept. 10.
Five freshmen started USC's first game of the year, and it's been a similar story ever since. The strength of the Trojan newcomers has been most visible on the front lines with Haley Boysen and Elizabeth Eddy starting all five games to date for the Trojans. Freshman goalkeeper Shelby Church also has locked into goal for every game. All told, six true freshmen have appeared in the starting lineup, not including redshirt freshman Morgan Morrow's recent debut after being sidelined last year with a knee injury. Morrow has set up shop in the back to replace injured junior defender Chelsea Buehning, who tore her ACL in USC's 2010 season opener.
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. In breaking down the 2010 Trojan roster, there is a clear balance of power. Seniors Alyssa Dávila, Megan Ohai and Karter Haug offer up winning experience from front to back, with star midfielder Ashli Sandoval returning 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 headline the front lines, with Sandoval shining in the middle and Haug in command of the defense. Already, the group has produced for the Women of Troy. Dávila has started all seven games to date; Sandoval scored in her first two games back on the turf; Ohai has moved up to No. 9 in career goals (15) and No. 6 in career game-winning goals (7) after her winner vs. Purdue; and Haug has served up two assists so far.
After getting her first career shutout under her belt with a 1-0 win at TCU on August 27, USC's freshman goalkeeper Shelby Church delivered another powerful statement in the very next game. Faced with a penalty kick that threatened to put USC down two goals in the first half at Texas, Church made a clutch save against the PK to keep the Trojans within reach, and USC would equalize late in the game. Church has since helped secure a run of three straight shutouts for the Trojan defense, as she currently holds four shutouts, 27 saves and three goals against to kick off her career as a Trojan.
FINDING THEIR FEET
USC's freshman class has been an integral part of the Trojan lineup in the early goings of the season, and now that group official has made its mark on the stat sheets. During USC's Trojan Invitational, Haley Boysen became the first freshman to score a goal this season with her overtime game-winner against Auburn. She would also pick up the first freshman assists during the weekend as well, including help on her fellow freshman Mia Bruno's first career goal as a Trojan in USC's win over NAU.
USC head coach Ali Khosroshahin is in his 10th season of collegiate head coaching. It's a milestone that he admits came faster than he expected, but there's no doubt that he has squeezed a lot of shining moments into his first decade. In his three seasons at the helm of the Women of Troy, he's continued his streak of NCAA appearances (2005 and 2006 at Cal State Fullerton; 2007-present at USC) and picked up a national championship along the way. Khosroshahin and the Trojans won the 2007 NCAA title in his first season at Troy, making USC the first Pac-10 school to ever win a women's soccer national championship. The 2007 National Coach of the Year, Khosroshahin totes a 48-14-7 (.746) overall record at USC and 124-54-13 (.683) career record into this final season of his first decade of collegiate coaching.
MARK YOUR CALENDERS FOR THE COLISEUM
The Women of Troy have their two biggest Pac-10 games of the season set up for the grand stage of the Los Angeles Coliseum. Mark your calendars for October 8 for the Trojans' clash with the conference's top-picked team Stanford at 7 p.m. at the Coliseum. And then get ready to come back again to be a part of a history-making crowd on October 22 for USC's crosstown showdown against UCLA. USC is aiming to break its attendance record that night at the Coliseum, as the Trojans and the Bruins go head-to-head at 7 p.m.
BACK ON THE ATTACK
Over half of USC's goals last season came from the feet of returning strikers Alyssa Dávila, Sam 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. Including those two senior strikers and sophomore Johnson, 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.
The wisdom and skill of USC's senior strikers Alyssa Dávila and Megan Ohai star in a younger lineup of forwards. Sophomore Samantha Johnson was a Pac-10 All-Freshman Team honoree last year, and she has a set of newcomers to follow in her footsteps. Strikers with youth national team experience, true freshmen Haley Boysen and Elizabeth Eddy offer a talented and speedy option for the front line, along with the addition of Isabelle Johnson in her first season as a Trojan.
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. 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.
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 smoothly to USC's offensive onslaught as she enters her first season of action. 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.
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, junior Claire Schloemer is again locked into the middle of the defense. Missing since tearing her ACL in USC's first game is junior Chelsea Buehning, whose booming left foot made her a staple on that side of the field. Most recently, and quite successfully, Morgan Morrow has made the move to the back to do duty on defense. Following the graduation of All-American defender Meagan 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 Allie Harrison or even the experienced Ashli Sandoval into the back line.
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.
BREAK THE RECORD
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!
In 2009, USC made its fifth consecutive NCAA appearance in reaching the first round, falling in penalty kicks to Oklahoma State. The Trojans had pieced together a nine-game winning streak during the season, and finished Pac-10 play in fourth place with a 4-3-2 mark. Overall, the Women of Troy posted 12-6-3 record on the year and finished up ranked No. 24 in the final NSCAA national poll. Senior goalkeeper Kristin Olsen was a back-to-back Pac-10 Player of the Week last season, going on to be named a Hermann Trophy semifinalist and a NSCAA First Team All-American. Olsen also led a group of four USC All-Pac-10 honorees. Olsen was selected to the All-Pac-10 First Team, junior midfielder Alyssa Dávila picked up her first Pac-10 award with a spot on the Second Team; senior Meagan Holmes earned her third All-Pac-10 honor with an Honorable Mention pick and freshman Samantha Johnson was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team to open her Trojan playing career.