USC Goes Up Against Undefeated UCLA In Another NCAA Collision
Nov. 18, 2008WATCH College Cup 2008 W. Soccer Behind the Scenes (3:18) Free
THIS WEEK: USC has busted through the first two rounds of NCAA action for the second straight season, as the defending national champions now enter the Sweet Sixteen of NCAA women's soccer. The fourth-seeded Women of Troy are up against a familiar opponent for the NCAA Third Round this week, as USC (16-4-2) pays a visit to crosstown rival UCLA (20-0-2) on Saturday (Nov. 22) at 6:30 p.m. The top-seeded Bruins have plenty of pressure on them considering the Trojans served up a semifinal upset of UCLA in the 2007 NCAA College Cup to dash the Bruins' hopes of a title after five straight College Cup appearances. This year, the Trojans have a shot at both avenging a 2-1 Pac-10 loss to UCLA and knocking out the favored Bruins two rounds shy of the College Cup while on UCLA home turf this weekend.
RANKINGS: Ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls as the defending national champion, USC closed the regular season ranking highest at No. 8 according to the final NSCAA and Soccer Times polls, and is No. 9 according to Soccer America and No. 10 in SoccerBuzz. UCLA is No. 2 in all four final polls.
NCAA NOTES: This is USC's fourth consecutive NCAA appearance and 10th overall trip to the NCAA Tournament, in which the Trojans are now 12-8 overall after last year's run to the NCAA Championship and wins in this year's first and second rounds. USC's 2007 national championship was the first-ever in program history, as the Trojans became the first Pac-10 school to win a women's soccer NCAA title. Before claiming the 2007 NCAA crown, USC had yet to break through the NCAA Second Round. This season, USC has been ranked in the nation's top 10 throughout the year. The Trojans have come up against eight other teams now bound for the postseason, going 4-3-1 against those tournament teams: beating Georgia, San Diego, California and Washington; falling to top seeds Stanford and UCLA and No. 2 seed Portland; and tying Washington State.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR: In 2007, USC earned its highest ever seeding in the Tournament -- coming off a regular season that also saw the Trojans in their highest national rankings in program history. USC worked its way to a No. 2 seed thanks to a strong regular-season showing in which USC took a 14-3-2 overall record into the 2007 NCAA Tournament before emerging with five more shutouts, a program-record 20-3-2 overall record and the 2007 national championship.
USC IN NCAA ACTION: 1998 1st Round def. Washington 2-1 (OT) 2nd Round lost to San Diego State 1-0 (OT) 1999 1st Round bye 2nd Round lost to SMU 1-0 2000 1st Round def. San Diego 2-1 2nd Round lost to UCLA 3-0 2001 1st Round lost to Pepperdine 1-0 2002 1st Round def. San Diego 1-0 (OT) 2nd Round lost to UCLA 1-0 (OT) 2003 1st Round lost to Pepperdine 1-0 2005 1st Round def. Gonzaga 1-0 2nd Round lost to Cal State Fullerton 3-1 2006 1st Round def. Santa Clara 1-0 2nd Round lost to Stanford 2-0 2007 1st Round def. Creighton 3-0 2nd Round def. Missouri 1-0 (2OT) 3rd Round def. Florida 1-0 Quarterfinals def. West Virginia 1-0 Semifinals def. UCLA 2-1 Championship def. Florida State 2-0
LAST WEEK: USC opened its 2008 tournament campaign in Provo, Utah, as the Trojans paid a visit to the BYU campus for the 2008 NCAA First and Second Rounds. USC beat Boston University 2-0 in a first-round clash, notching goals from seniors Janessa Currier and Ashley Nick while the Trojan defense pitched a shutout against the Terriers. Two days later, USC went to penalty kicks against BYU in the second round after a 1-1 tie held through two overtimes. The Trojans captured the right to advance on a 4-2 decision in the shootout, where goalkeeper Kristin Olsen had two saves and USC scored on its first four penalty kicks. Ashley Nick had put USC ahead 1-0 with her second goal in two games on a diving header during the first half, but BYU tied things up in the 64th minute.
SCOUTING UCLA: The Bruins are ranked No. 2 in the nation and are undefeated at 20-0-2 after a 5-0 win over Fresno State in the NCAA First Round and a 1-0 victory over San Diego in the Second Round. UCLA is a top seed in this year's tournament after capturing the automatic bid as the Pac-10 champion. Lauren Cheney and Kristina Larsen lead the Bruins in scoring with 10 goals each. Head coach Jillian Ellis is in her 10th season as head coach of UCLA. USC is 3-17-1 all-time against UCLA, falling 2-1 to the Bruins in Pac-10 play this season. USC snapped an 11-game winless streak against UCLA last year with a 2-1 comeback win in the semifinals of the 2007 NCAA College Cup.
ALL GROWN UP: Back in 2005, USC welcomed a class of 11 freshmen to the fields of Troy. Three injury redshirts and two departures later, that class -- considered the No. 1 incoming class in the nation -- stands at six. Now in their fourth season at Troy are seniors Janessa Currier, Kelley Finch, Nini Loucks, Ashley Nick, Amy Rodriguez and Stacey Strong. The three 2005 newcomers sidelined by injury are Brittany Massro and Marihelen Tomer (both redshirted 2005) and Meagan Holmes (redshirted 2007). All told, that initial 2005 freshman class has scored 83 goals and had 60 assists as a group since setting foot at Troy. That group has combined for 23 goals and 26 assists during this season.
CROWDED HOUSE: The Coliseum crowd of 7,804 at this year's USC-UCLA crosstown showdown not only stands as the second-largest crowd at any NCAA regular-season women's soccer game, it also marked 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, last year at the 2007 NCAA semifinal -- and obliterated the previous USC record for attendance at a soccer game. A total of 1,469 fans attended USC's NCAA Third Round match last season in the Coliseum, and 1,199 had packed McAlister in 2006 for that Trojan-Bruin bash. The regular-season NCAA attendance record sits at 8,204.
TAKE TWO: The first-ever soccer head coach to win an NCAA championship in his first season with his team, Ali Khosroshahin has set up his Trojans for year two of high intensity and high standards. With USC's program-record-tying 7-1 win over Alabama on Sept. 7, Khosroshahin earned his 100th career victory as a head coach. His 96-43-8 (.680) overall record entering 2008 already ranks him among the top 30 winningest active coaches with at least five years head coaching experience in NCAA Division I women's soccer.
OFFENSIVE ONSLAUGHT: The USC offense ranks No. 18 in the nation with an average of 2.32 goals per game. Janessa Currier became the 11th Trojan to score on the year with her game-winner against Boston University last week, and the Trojans now have outscored opponents 51-16. Seven-goal efforts against Alabama and Cal State Bakersfield tied the program record for single-game scoring, matching outings previously posted in 1993 and 1995. Now with 51 goals scored so far this season, the Trojans have passed up scoring totals from all but two seasons (13 total) in USC's 16-year history. With two goals on the road to close Pac-10 play, USC bettered last year's count of 47 tallied during the 2007 NCAA title-winning run. USC scored 54 goals in 1996, with the program record standing at 61 goals in 1997 -- which also had been the last time any Trojan had tallied a hat trick in a game until Amy Rodriguez hit three against Cal State Bakersfield on Oct. 2.
BACK AT IT: USC's season opener marked a return to action for two tough and talented Trojans who were sidelined by knee injuries in 2007. Meagan Holmes and Nini Loucks both got starting nods against San Diego. Holmes, who is playing as a redshirt junior, went the full 94 minutes on the back line, while Loucks wreaked havoc up front for 38 minutes. Loucks' 2007 injury came too late in the season to redshirt, making her a senior this year. Holmes played every minute of the Trojans' first four games and remained a starter on the back line until an injury to her other knee sidelined her for four games. Loucks tallied her fourth career game-winning goal with a score at Portland State, had her first two-goal game in USC's win over Alabama, and scored her fourth goal of the year against SMU.
GOLDEN A-ROD: Already a 2007 NCAA champion, senior Amy Rodriguez captured an Olympic gold medal in Beijing as a member of the United States Olympic Team. A first-time Olympian, Rodriguez was an unwavering spark on the front lines throughout the Games. In the final against Brazil, it was Rodriguez who set up the game-winning goal from Carli Lloyd, slipping a pass back to Lloyd for the assist on the golden strike. Rodriguez started all five wins with the United States and averaged 84 minutes a game, finishing with one goal and two assists. Rodriguez is USC's first-ever women's soccer Olympian and the first USC soccer player to medal in the Games. Her gold-medal win in Beijing helped to bring USC a grand total of 21 medals in Beijing -- nine of which were gold. Since her return to action at Troy on Sept. 5, USC picked up its scoring pace markedly as a team, with Rodriguez adding eight goals and four assists thanks to the first hat trick of her career on Oct. 2, when she became the first Trojan since 1997 to score three goals in a game.
LOOKING FRESH: In addition to returning 10 starters from the 2007 lineup, the Trojans have nine new faces on the roster for 2008. In the season opener at San Diego, three new freshmen saw time on the field. Carly Butcher, Ashley Freyer and Brittany Kerridge all got in as subs for their Trojan debuts on August 22. Kerridge was the first of the group to get a start, having started in the midfield at Portland State and Portland. All three scored their first career goals as Women of Troy on the same weekend, with Freyer scoring against Santa Clara and Butcher and Kerridge scoring against Alabama. Butcher and Freyer combined for some important heroics in USC's comeback at Georgia, as Butcher got USC back in it with two second-half goals and Freyer knocked in the game-winner in double overtime. The three onfield regulars have combined for 10 goals and six assists so far this season.
HOME RUN: After going 8-0-1 at home in 2007, USC carried an 11-match unbeaten streak into its 2008 campaign. This year, USC has hosted 11 games -- nine at McAlister Field and two at the Los Angeles Coliseum. A 3-0 win at home vs. LMU bumped that streak up to 15 straight, setting a new program record for USC's home unbeaten streak, which was capped off at 19 straight after the 2-1 loss to UCLA at the Coliseum.
SPEAKING OF STREAKS: USC's program record of 19 straight unbeaten home games isn't the only significant streak set by the Women of Troy this season. With its 3-2 overtime win over Washington on Oct. 10, USC set a new record win streak, topping the previous best set in 1998 by tallying the Trojans' ninth consecutive win. A tie with WSU on Oct. 12 leveled last year's 10-game unbeaten run, and a 2-0 win over Arizona made it an 11-match unbeaten stretch before ASU interrupted things with a 1-0 defeat of the Trojans on Oct. 19.
WATCH THIS: A trio of Trojans are lined up as possible recipients of collegiate soccer's highest honor. The Missouri Athletic Club has named 47 athletes to the Hermann Trophy Watch List for 2008. Amy Rodriguez is joined by fellow senior Ashley Nick and junior Kristin Olsen as candidates for the award. Aside from USC, only two other schools are represented by three players on the Watch List. Olsen also has been named a Preseason All-American by Soccer America. She is joined as a First Team Preseason All-American selection by Rodriguez. All three Trojans already have been named NSCAA All-Americans while at Troy, and the trio combines as powerful representatives from their respective positions on the field. It is the first Hermann Trophy Watch List honor for all three Women of Troy.
LAST SEASON: Last season was historic. A 20-3-2 overall record was the best in program history and notched USC its first-ever NCAA women's soccer championship. To get there, the Trojans placed second at 6-2-1 in the Pac-10 behind defending champ UCLA. In the postseason, USC finally broke through the NCAA Second Round for the first time in history with a road win at Missouri, and kept winning, eventually turning the tables on the Bruins with a 2-1 win in the NCAA semifinals to set another historic date with Florida State in the championship game. There, the Trojans tallied their 15th shutout of the year - another program record - and fifth of the NCAA tournament, notching a 2-0 win over the Seminoles to claim the crown in College Station, Texas. USC allowed a program-low 13 goals while scoring its third highest scoring tally of 47 goals. Amy Rodriguez was named the College Cup Offensive MVP. Kristin Olsen snagged Defensive MVP honors. And Janessa Currier, Kasey Johnson and Marihelen Tomer were named to the All-Tournament Team. Olsen and Ashley Nick also became just the fifth and sixth Women of Troy to earn NSCAA All-American honors.