Nov. 12, 2010

Courtesy of USC

- The USC women's soccer team scored an NCAA First Round victory with a 3-1 win over Illinois today in South Bend, Ind. In an offensive effort that ties the most goals scored by the Trojans in an NCAA match, USC followed up a first-half goal with two in the second - including a 50-yard bomb from Ashli Sandoval that would prove the game-winner - to put the Fighting Illini out of reach. Now 13-5-3 overall, USC will next face host Notre Dame in an NCAA Second Round match on Sunday (Nov. 14) at 1 p.m. ET.

Illinois fired the first shots of the match, but the Trojans popped on the board first when Brittany Kerridge sailed a picture-perfect pass over the Illinois back line for a racing Ashley Freyer. Freyer slotted her shot with a nice touch past the goalkeeper, and USC was up 1-0 in the 31st minute of play.

"It's great that we came out strong," senior forward Megan Ohai said. "The first game is the hardest game of the tournament because nobody wants to be sent home first round. Illinois is a solid team and they kind of shocked us in the first 10 minutes. They didn't give up and it was close until the end. But I think we managed it well."

Freyer had a couple chances to add to her scoring tally in the early goings of the second half on feeds from Elizabeth Eddy and Haley Boysen, but USC wouldn't expand its lead until the 56th minute. That one came from the boot of Ashli Sandoval. Sandoval had lined up for a free kick just across midfield, but the redshirt junior had no qualms about slamming that 50-yarder straight on goal. Sandoval launched the ball on target to the top right corner, giving the Illinois goalkeeper only a chance for a hand on the ball as it knocked off the crossbar and in to lift USC ahead 2-0.

Illinois followed with a couple dangerous chances, but the USC defense kept the Fighting Illini silent. Mia Bruno was a lock on the outside back line, while Claire Schloemer and Sandoval held tight in the center and Karter Haug took care of business on the right side. With under 15 minutes to go, USC struck again, padding its lead out to 3-0 when Courtney Garcia found Samantha Johnson. Johnson took the ball and worked her way open for a look and a goal with 14:22 on the clock. Illinois would get on the board when Marissa Mykines slotted the ball across the face of the goal for Shayla Mutz to punch in in the 80th minute of action. That 3-1 margin would stand, giving Sandoval the game-winner and USC the trip to the NCAA Second Round against Notre Dame on Sunday.