No. 3 USC Pays Visits to UC Irvine and Arizona State
Feb. 13, 2008
THIS WEEK: After a second-place finish at last week's Stanford Invitational, the No. 3 Women of Troy remain on the road this weekend as they open MPSF competition. The Trojans (4-2) first visit No. 10 UC Irvine (4-1) for a 12 p.m. match on Saturday (Feb. 16) in Irvine, Calif. USC will then head to Tempe, Ariz., for a rematch with No. 8 Arizona State (8-3) at 12 p.m. on Sunday (Feb. 17).
RANKINGS: Despite taking second at the Stanford Invite, USC moved down a notch to No. 3 in the national poll this week. UC Irvine ranks No. 10 this week, while Arizona State improved to No. 8.
LAST WEEK: USC went 2-2 at the Stanford Invitational last weekend, finishing in second place at the competitive tournament. The Trojans opened up its tough bracket by knocking No. 5 California and No. 3 Stanford out of contention. USC first downed the Bears with a 9-3 win thanks to solid defense including 10 saves from Tumua Anae and hat tricks from Veronika Bartunkova and Miranda Nichols. Against the Cardinal, the Trojan defense again allowed only one first-half goal -- this time with Whitney Morgan in the cage. Bartunkova led USC again with a pair of goals on the way to a 5-4 win over Stanford. On the second day, USC slipped and fell to No. 11 Arizona State 8-5, but had already clinched the top position in its bracket to move into the championship game against No. 1 UCLA. The Bruins were able to win the tournament title with an 8-4 win over the Trojans despite a career-high 13 saves from Anae. Bartunkova was USC's top scorer in the tournament with seven goals, followed by five from Kally Lucas -- who had back-to-back two-goal outings on the second day.
SCOUTING UC IRVINE: The Anteaters are 4-1 on the season after beating Brown (17-9), Long Beach State (7-4) and UC Santa Barbara (10-5) and losing to LMU (9-8) at the UCSD Invite last week. Gianna Rossi and Julie Fancher lead UCI in scoring with nine goals apiece. USC is 14-3 all-time against UC Irvine, having won the past 14 games against the Anteaters including a 12-8 MPSF victory last season.
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils are 8-3 on the season after falling to Stanford (14-4) and Cal (11-7) and beating USC (8-5) and Michigan (9-6) at the Stanford Invite. ASU's top scorer is Addison McGrath with 25 goals so far this season. USC is 6-1 all-time against the Sun Devils after losing their first-ever game to ASU last week in an 8-5 loss at the Stanford Invite.
LAST SEASON: In 2007, USC finished third in the NCAA Tournament and in the MPSF Tournament, losing to eventual national champion UCLA by a single goal in the semifinals at both tournaments. The Trojans went 22-6 overall last season and were 10-2 in MPSF action. The Women of Troy also expanded their home win streak to 38 straight games with their fifth consecutive undefeated season at McDonald's Swim Stadium.
LET THE BALANCE BEGIN: In the previous three seasons, the Trojans have tallied18 different scorers each year. In game one of 2008, USC made a big early dent in that mark with 10 Women of Troy scoring in USC's opener against Hartwick on Feb. 2, hinting at another widespread scoring attack from the Trojans in the season to come. The next game proved the point, with another 10-player production to get two more Trojans on the scoring charts this season for a total of 12 scorers on the year.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: The Trojans reign supreme as the conference's top defensive team thanks to a strong start to 2008. Behind a potent tag-team in the cage of goalies Tumua Anae and Whitney Morgan, USC is averaging an MPSF-best of 5.17 goals against per game. Anae leads the conference on her own with 3.50 goals allowed per game.
SENIOR STRIKER: Just six games into the year, senior Veronika Bartunkova is already almost halfway to her goal total from last season. She leads the Trojans with 12 goals, having struck in every game so far this year, including two hat tricks.
WHO'S BACK: Leading the Trojans into the 2008 season are a set of four experienced seniors -- Veronika Bartunkova, Miranda Nichols, Alison Riddle and Julie Spataru -- as well as 2006 All-American goalie Whitney Morgan and 2007 MPSF All-Freshman picks Forel Davies and Alexandra Kiss. Also entering another year of action at Troy are juniors Jordan Anae and Michelle Stein and sophomores Tumua Anae and Kally Lucas.
WHO'S NEW: USC has added a stack of new talent to its 2008 roster, including a set of last year's redshirt players. The Trojans' redshirt freshman are Tekla Beckmann, Shauna Letvin and Rebecca McCall. And splashing down for their first seasons at Troy as true freshmen are Kristen Dronberger, Katie Indvik, Jessica Kutcher, Stephanie Lavayen, Courtney Ray, Lindsey Urquhart and Sarah Van Norman.
PUTTING THE "USC" IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: As the 2008 Olympic Games draw near, so does the promise of Olympic dreams for several Trojans. USC athletes comprise almost a third of the current U.S. women's national team roster, as Team USA preps for Beijing. USC junior Kami Craig is taking time off from the pool at Troy this year in order to work toward the games alongside five former Trojans: Patty Cardenas, Erika Figge, Brittany Hayes, Moriah Van Norman and Lauren Wenger. Team USA also boasts 1996 USC grad and 2000 Olympian Bernice Orwig as an assistant coach. Over the summer, USC sophomore Forel Davies joined Craig as a member of the U.S. Junior National Team at the 2007 Junior World Championships in Portugal. To keep up with the Women of Troy in their pursuit of Olympic gold, check back to usctrojans.com and also at usawaterpolo.org.