No. 4 USC Aims For MPSF Road Sweep
March 5, 2008
THIS WEEK: USC takes to the road once more this week, heading north again to face Cal and Pacific for a pair of MPSF matches. The Trojans' clash with the Bears is an important one, as the teams have split games so far this season, and Cal currently sits ahead of USC in the national polls. The Women of Troy (10-4, 3-0 MPSF) will visit Berkeley to play Cal (11-4, 4-1) at 12 p.m. on Saturday (March 8), and then will head to Stockton to face Pacific (3-11, 0-6) at 12 p.m. on Sunday (March 9).
RANKINGS: USC ranks No. 4 in the latest national poll. Cal is just ahead at No.3, and Pacific is unranked.
LAST WEEK: USC had a strong outing last week, getting home wins over LMU and Cal State Northridge behind some good defense and a balanced offense that helped the Trojans expand their home win streak to 42 straight victories at McDonald's Swim Stadium. In a 13-5 win over LMU, USC worked out ahead of LMU in each frame. Veronika Bartunkova and Miranda Nichols each tacked up a hat trick for USC, while goalie Tumua Anae tallied 12 saves. The next day in another balanced game, USC allowed only a single goal each period on the way to a 12-4 MPSF win over No. 14 Cal State Northridge. The Women of Troy spread out their scoring among eight different players, led by two goals apiece from Kally Lucas, Alexandra Kiss, Forel Davies and Jordan Anae, and backed up by nine saves from Tumua Anae and two from Whitney Morgan in another powerful defensive effort by the Trojans.
SCOUTING CAL: The No. 3 Bears are 11-4 overall and 4-1 in MPSF play after wins over UC Irvine (5-3) and Long Beach State (13-3) last week. Grace Reynolds leads the Bears in scoring with 27 goals, averaging 1.8 per game, and goalie Heather Stuart leads the MPSF with 10.21 saves per game. USC is 17-17 all-time against Cal after splitting the first two games this season, as the Trojans won 9-3 at the Stanford Invitational and the Bears won 9-8 in the third-place game of the UC Irvine Invitational. USC beat Cal 15-9 and 12-7 last season.
SCOUTING PACIFIC: The Tigers are 3-11 overall and 0-6 in MPSF play after losing to Long Beach State (14-7) and UC Irvine (20-8) last week. Kellie Fletcher leads the MPSF in scoring with 40 goals, averaging 3.1 per game for the Tigers. USC is 14-0 all-time against Pacific after beating the Tigers 24-2 in last season's MPSF meeting.
STEIN STRIKES AGAIN: Junior Michelle Smith stands as USC's leading scorer on the season with 27 goals. She had nine in four games at the UC Irvine Tournament, just a week after scoring seven goals in two games for the Trojans to help USC to a 2-0 start in MPSF play. Stein scored four of USC's final eight goals against UC Irvine and had a hat trick as USC avenged an earlier loss to ASU the next day. For her seven-goal outing across the two games, Stein earned her first career honors as the MPSF Mikasa Co-Player of the Week.
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. Two new scorers emerged at the USC Irvine Invitational to get USC up to a total of 14 scorers on the year.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: The Trojans are just a breath out of the No. 1 slot in the conference's top defensive standings thanks to a strong start to 2008. Behind a potent tag-team in the cage of goalies Tumua Anae and Whitney Morgan, and arguably the top defensive field players in the game -- Forel Davies and Miranda Nichols -- USC is averaging 5.14 goals against per game. Morgan and Anae also lead the MPSF in fewest goals allowed with 3.00 and 3.83 goals against per game, respectively.
TUMUA TAKES CONTROL: Sophomore goalie Tumua Anae recently claimed her first career award from the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, named the MPSF Mikasa Co-Player of the Week after another strong weekend in the cage. Anae put up big defensive numbers again in the cage for the Trojans, tallying 21 saves in just over six periods of play last week as USC ballooned its home win streak to 42 straight victories. Anae ranks third in the conference with 9.17 saves per game.
SENIOR STRIKER: Twelve games into the year, senior Veronika Bartunkova is already more than halfway to her goal total from last season. She sits as USC's second scoring leader with 22 goals, having struck in all but four games so far this year, including four hat tricks.
FOREL'S FAST: Sophomore Forel Davies has plenty of speed to go along with her defensive prowess and offensive abilities. She won eight of her nine opening sprints at the UC Irvine Invitational, including five straight in USC's semifinal overtime clash with Stanford.
HOME POOL ADVANTAGE: After five straight undefeated seasons at home and a 4-0 mark this season, USC's home winning streak is now a whopping 42 straight. The Trojans went 7-0 at home in 2003, 7-0 in 2004, 8-0 in 2005, 9-0 in 2006 and 7-0 in 2007. USC's last home loss was a 7-6 MPSF Semifinal loss to UCLA on April 27, 2002, when USC last hosted the MPSF Tournament.
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.
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.