Postseason Play Begins Wednesday for Women's Soccer
November 9, 1998
LOS ANGELES - The USC women's soccer team (13-6-1), led by coach Jim Millinder, had an extraordinary end to its regular season, winning the final seven matches en route to the program's first-ever Pacific-10 Conference title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The first-round NCAA matchup features two teams that know each other well: USC hosts Washington (10-8-1) on Wednesday (Nov. 11) at the Coliseum at 1 p.m. Earlier this season, the Huskies beat the Women of Troy, 3-2, in Seattle. The winner moves on to face San Diego State on Sunday (Nov. 15).
TICKETS - Tickets for the USC-Washington match can only be purchased at the gate. Per NCAA rules, admission prices are $7 for adults and $5 for students with ID, senior citizens and children ages 12 and under.
PAC-10 CHAMPIONS - After opening the Pac-10 season with two losses, a Pac-10 title seemed unlikely. But USC rallied with seven straight wins and the Women of Troy also got help via several other Pac-10 results. In the end, they tied with UCLA and California with 7-2 records, but won the tiebreaker because of their wins over the Bruins and Golden Bears.
NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTES - This will be the first NCAA Tournament appearance for the USC women's soccer team, which is in its sixth year of existence ... USC's strength of schedule in 1998 is evident in the fact that nine of the 20 matches were played against tournament teams ... USC is 5-4 against the tournament field (beating Baylor, BYU, California, Stanford and UCLA; and losing to Maryland, Nebraska, San Diego State and Washington) ... As a program, USC might not have tournament experience, but senior midfielder Erica De Vitis played in the 1996 NCAA Tournament with Nebraska before transferring.
MORE NEWS & NOTES - Kim Clark, a big reason behind USC's first-ever NCAA Tournament berth, broke her leg against UCLA and was lost for the season ... USC's current seven-match winning streak has tied a school record ... Isabelle Harvey leads the Pac-10 with 11 assists ... USC's 31 wins over the 1996 and 1997 seasons were more than any other Pac-10 team.
OPPONENT - Washington (10-8-1, 6-3 in the Pac-10) was in the running for the Pac-10 title but lost its final two matches of the year to Stanford and Washington State, both by the score of 1-0, to place fourth in the conference. The Huskies are led by sophomore Tami Bennett, who has 20 points (nine goals and two assists). Senior Erin Bailey, who is second on the team with 14 points, played at USC in 1994. Back on Oct. 11, the Huskies beat the Women of Troy, 3-2, in Seattle. Washington jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the second half. USC tried to rally behind goals by Kim Clark and Christina Kushnir, but the deficit turned out to be too great. The all-time series between the two schools is tied, 2-2. In the only previous meeting at the Coliseum, USC posted a 4-1 victory in 1997.
ISABELLE HARVEY - Sophomore midfielder/forward Isabelle Harvey (Quebec, Canada) is back at full strength after a serious knee injury. A player with an outstanding mix of technical skill and speed, she has 27 points (first on USC and third in the Pac-10) on eight goals (second on USC and tied for eighth in the Pac-10) and 11 assists (first on USC and first in the Pac-10). She has five game-winning goals in 1998 and a school-record 14 in her career. Isabelle had two goals against Towson, two assists against both Fresno State and Oregon and a goal and an assist against Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine, Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona. She made the Soccer America Team of the Week for scoring the game-winner against then-No. 18 Baylor. After leading the Pac-10 in scoring as a 1996 freshman, Isabelle redshirted the 1997 season with a torn ACL. Now, she is again one of the region's (if not one of the country's) top players. She is also a member of the Canadian National Team.
MEGHAN REPPE - The heart and soul of USC's defense, senior Meghan Reppe (Orange/Villa Park HS) is one of the quickest players in the nation and a relentless defender. Her contributions don't usually show up in the stats (Reppe has one assist in 1998) but she is typically lined up against the opponent's top threat. She was a 1997 All-West Region second teamer and has been even better in 1998. Meghan has started every one of USC's 78 matches in her four years and holds the school records for games played and started.
COURTNEY BARHAM - Senior forward Courtney Barham (Olivenhain/San Dieguito HS), USC's career goals (37) and points (87) leader, is an excellent scorer who has seven goals and four assists (tied for 10th in the Pac-10), good for 18 points in 1998. She had two goals against both UCLA (including the game-winner in the 89th minute, leading to Pac-10 Player of the Week honors) and Arizona, which came in back-to-back games. She also had a goal and an assist against Pepperdine and two assists against Oregon. She was the Pac-10's top returning goal scorer with 14 in 1997. Barham, one of Troy's speediest players, made the All-West Region third team and All-Pac-10 first team last season. Courtney has been hampered by injuries and missed three midseason games with a sprained ankle.
CHRISTINA KUSHNIR - Likely the top sweeper in the Pac-10, junior defender Christina Kushnir (San Diego/Bishop's HS) has been outstanding in 1998. A terrific player in the air, she has been a force on the offensive end as well, scoring four goals and getting one assist for a total of nine points. She had two goals against California and an assist against Stanford, leading to Pac-10 Player of the Week and Soccer America Team of the Week honors. She was also named the FOX Sports Net Player of the Game against California.
CAROL HATCHER - One of USC's steadiest players and a team leader, senior midfielder Carol Hatcher (Kapolei, Hi./Kalani HS) has two goals and six assists (tied for fifth in the Pac-10) for a total of 10 points. A three-year player, she ranks among USC's top five on the career lists for goals, assists and points.
MEGAN ORACH - A strong and versatile player, sophomore forward Megan Orach (Huntington Beach/Marina HS) has seen time all over the field in 1998. She has eight points on three goals and two assists. She had two goals against Oregon. Six of her 11 career goals have been game-winners.
ANDREA WARNER - Sophomore midfielder Andrea Warner (Dana Point/Dana Hills HS) is a solid technical player who has gone back and forth between starting and coming off the bench in 1998. She has eight points, with three goals (two game-winners) and two assists. She made the Soccer America Team of the Week after scoring the game-winner against then-No. 7 BYU.
KATIE TICEHURST - A hard-nosed and tenacious defender, sophomore Katie Ticehurst (Los Alamitos/Mater Dei HS) has been excellent at defensive midfielder in 1998. She has a goal and two assists.
ERICA DE VITIS - Perhaps the only player ever to be part of both Big 12 and Pac-10 championship-winning teams, senior midfielder Erica De Vitis is a key reserve for the Women of Troy. She has one goal and two assists in 1998. She played at Nebraska from 1995-96 before transferring, helping the Cornhuskers to the 1996 Big 12 title and the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.
OFFENSIVE NOTES - USC struggled to score goals for most of the regular season, but during the current seven-match winning streak, USC is averaging 3.0 goals a game. For the season, the Women of Troy are averaging 2.0 goals a game, down from an average of 3.1 last season. USC has been shut out five times (the school record is nine in 1993). In addition to the previously mentioned players, other standouts include senior midfielder Karen Norgaard (Encinitas/University City HS), freshman forward Christy Callier (San Diego/University City HS), freshman midfielder Brittany Savelkoul (Seal Beach/Los Alamitos HS) and sophomore midfielder Ami Aylor (Lake Forest/Santa Margarita HS).
DEFENSIVE NOTES - USC is giving up an average of 1.2 goals a game, the same average as last season. The Women of Troy have eight shutouts this season, setting a school record. Along with Reppe, Kushnir and Ticehurst, the fourth starter is freshman defender Erin Reed (Alamo/San Ramon Valley HS). Sophomore Susie Mora (Mission Viejo/Santa Margarita), a member of the Mexican National Team, is a key reserve.
GOALKEEPERS - Senior Karin Puccinelli (Cupertino/St. Francis HS) is the starter and she has had an excellent 1998 campaign. She was a co-starter the last two years and she has a career record of 26-9-1. Puccinelli is 10-5-1 in 1998 with a 1.193 goals-against average (fifth in the Pac-10) and 73 saves (seventh in the Pac-10). Talented freshman Shaelyn Fernandes (San Jose/Presentation HS) has seen some time in goal as well, playing in five matches and earning a 1.111 goals-against average and 24 saves. She had a prep record of 78-4-5 and led her club team, the Central Valley Mercury, to the last three national championships.
KIM CLARK - One of the top players in the nation, junior midfielder/forward Kim Clark (Cupertino/Monta Vista HS) will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a broken right leg against UCLA. A quick and creative player, she ends the 1998 season with 26 points (second on USC and tied for fourth in the Pac-10) on 10 goals (first on USC and tied for fifth in the Pac-10) and six assists (tied for fifth in the Pac-10). She had two goals and an assist against UCLA, two goals against Towson, a goal and an assist against both Pepperdine and Washington and two assists against California. She is No. 1 on the school's assist list with 27. Her school-record 12-game scoring streak ended in the opener against San Diego State. Soccer Buzz named her the preseason Pac-10 Player of the Year. She earned All-American third team status in 1997 and led the West Region with 17 assists. Kim also plays basketball for the Women of Troy (along with her twin sister, Kristin), though it appears she will miss the 1998-99 season.
HEAD COACH JIM MILLINDER - Now in his third season as USC's head coach, Jim Millinder has turned Troy into a budding national power. He has a three-year record of 44-14-2 (.750) with USC and a five-year overall mark of 52-41-6 (.556). A former U.S. National Team member who played in the 1982 World Cup, Millinder was named the 1997 West Region Coach of the Year and the 1996 Pac-10 Coach of the Year. The win over UCLA was the 50th in his five-year NCAA Division I coaching career.
INJURIES - USC's sideline has looked like a M.A.S.H. unit at times this season. Freshman defender Kim Abbamonto (Mission Viejo/Capistrano Valley HS), one of the top prep recruits in Southern California, has not seen any action due to a hip and lower back problem and she will redshirt. Junior forward Kaylee Whitfield (Santa Ana/El Modena HS), attempting to come back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee, tore the ACL in her left knee against San Diego State and was lost for the season. Four players left the Loyola Marymount game with injuries, though only Courtney Barham missed more time. She was sidelined for three games with a sprained ankle before returning against Washington. Kim Clark broke her right leg against UCLA and missed the last two matches.
QUICK STATS - The Women of Troy have set a school single-season record with 132 corner kicks (they had 120 in 1997) ... USC also has a school-record eight shutouts ... USC is 5-1 in one-goal games ... USC is 11-0-1 when it scores first ... USC is 2-6 when the opponent scores first ... USC is 11-0 when it leads at halftime ... USC is 1-6 when it trails at halftime ... USC is 1-0-1 when the match is tied at halftime ... USC is 4-0-4 in its last eight overtime games dating back to 1994 ... When Megan Orach scored in the first minute of the match against Oregon, it was the second straight year that she had done that against the Ducks ... The crowd of 1,057 that saw the USC-UCLA match was USC's largest home crowd ever (nearly doubling the previous record crowd of 570, set earlier this year against Nebraska).
LAST WEEK - Isabelle Harvey's penalty-kick goal in overtime at Arizona lifted USC to a 2-1 victory and the Pac-10 championship on Sunday (Nov. 8). The Wildcats scored an early goal and it took more than 70 minutes before USC finally solved Arizona's defense on a header by Christina Kushnir, tying the match at 1-1. On Friday (Nov. 6), USC defeated Arizona State, 2-0, on a pair of goals by Courtney Barham.
NATIONAL TEAM NEWS - Assuming she keeps playing with the Canadian National Team, Isabelle Harvey will take part in the 1999 Women's World Cup, to be hosted next summer by the United States. Harvey, a native of Quebec, was part of the Canadian team that won the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in early September ... Susie Mora also still has a chance to play in the World Cup with Mexico (she was born in Santa Ana, Calif.; her parents were born in Mexico). The Mexicans finished second at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament and next face Argentina in a two-game series with a World Cup bid on the line ... Meghan Reppe was called up to the U.S. National B team in August but has not yet played in a game.
LOOKING AHEAD - USC's schedule gets even tougher in 1999 when 10 of the 20 matches will be played against 1998 NCAA Tournament teams. In fact, the Women of Troy play four of the top eight seeds: North Carolina, Florida, Portland and Connecticut. The other six tournament teams are BYU, California, Maryland, Stanford, UCLA and Washington.
COACH MILLINDER SAYS - "Making our first NCAA Tournament is very exciting and I couldn't be any prouder of this team. We fought through so much adversity this season and to win our last seven Pac-10 matches to get to this point is very satisfying. We lost to Washington earlier in the year and I'm looking forward to a chance to play the Huskies again. It's a whole new season."