Aug. 22, 2006
WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE: The University of San Diego women's soccer team will open its 2006 campaign with a pair of Big West Conference opponents this upcoming weekend. USD will travel to Northern California on Friday for a 7 p.m. match with the Cal Poly Mustangs in San Luis Obispo. The Toreros will then head back to the friendly confines of Torero Stadium on Sunday for a 2:30 p.m. match with the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara.
FACING THE RANKS: Within the West Coast Conference, four teams have been ranked according to several preseason polls. Portland, the defending national champion, opens the season ranked No. 1 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll and No. 2 in the Soccer America preseason poll. Santa Clara opens the season ranked No. 5 by Soccer America and No. 7 by the NSCAA. Pepperdine garnered its second preseason ranking, coming in at No. 20 in the NSCAA poll and Gonzaga received its first preseason ranking coming in at No. 25 in the Soccer Buzz preseason poll. San Diego looks to climb up the steep WCC ladder, a conference that placed four teams in last year's NCAA College Cup.
THE SCHEDULE: The Toreros 2006 schedule is difficult, but this is a surprise to no one, as USD has become an elite program. Over the past 10 plus years USD has consistently made the NCAA College Cup Tournament and has also been in the national polls. This season, the Toreros will once again have to battle through a schedule that features seven teams that were in last season's NCAA College Cup Tournament including the defending national champion University of Portland. USD will also square off against Big West Champion Cal State Fullerton, Mountain West champion UNLV as well as the strong WCC schedule featuring four teams ranked among the nations elite.
SCOUTING THE MUSTANGS: Cal Poly enters the season after recording their fourth consecutive winning season, posting a 2005 mark of 10-5-4. The Mustangs will return their 17 letterwinners, including seven starters and their top two leading scorers from past season's squad in seniors Sharon Day and Elsey Carroll. The Mustangs and Toreros have met on 11 prior occasions with USD holding a 8-2-1 series edge. Cal Poly is under the direction of 14th year head coach Alex Crozier who has posted a 175-80-27 career mark while in San Luis Obispo.
SCOUTING THE GAUCHOS: UC Santa Barbara enters the 2006 season after posting a 2005 mark of 9-10-0 which marked their first season since 1999 that the Gauchos did not post a winning record. UCSB is under the direction of Paul Stumpf who is in his eighth season at the helm of the program. During his tenure in Santa Barbara he has posted an overall record of 74-52-11, which places him in second place on the all-time wins list at UCSB. San Diego and Santa Barbara have met on 18 other occasions with the Toreros holding a 10-8 advantage in this category.
THE TOREROS IN OPENERS: San Diego has posted an all-time record of 8-6 in its 14 year history in season openers. Of those season openers the Toreros have only been on their home pitch on five of those occasions posting a three wins, two against UC Santa Barbara. Overall in USD's home openers they have posted a 9-3-2 record.
EPSTEN RETURNING TO FORM: San Diego's junior forward, Amy Epsten, has the coaching staff excited about this season. Head coach Ada Greenwood says that Epsten is returning to her form of two years ago when she was tabbed the West Coast Conference's Freshman of the Year. This past season Epsten's numbers dropped a bit, but Greenwood is confident that she will return to her form of two years ago and will give the Toreros a strong scoring threat.
FABULOUS FRESHMAN: San Diego's freshman forward Jessica Larrabee comes to USD after four consecutive first-team All-CIF selections, four first-team All-Costal League selections and leading her team to a CIF Division IV championship as a senior. She was a member of the Olympic Development Program and was named a 2005 NSCAA All-American. Larrabee is expected to be competing for starting time in the Toreros front line.
BATTLE IN GOAL: In the net for the Toreros there is a battle going on between junior Karen Cook and sophomore Brittany Cameron. Last season each keeper took their turn seeing time in the net and both looked solid with Cameron playing a majority of the minutes. Cameron posted a 3-8 record with one shutout and had a GAA of 1.84. Cook, USD's starter as a freshman, posted a 3-4-1 record with one shutout and a GAA of 2.00. Greenwood said that these two will battle it out in camp to determine who will be the starter.
THE GREENWOOD FILE: Since taking over the San Diego women's soccer program in 2003, Ada Greenwood has upheld the rich soccer tradition that San Diego is known for and continues to build a successful and nationally recognized program. Just the third coach in USD's storied 14 year history, Greenwood has complied an overall record of 27-28-7 in his three seasons at the helm. As San Diego's top assistant from 1998-2002, Greenwood helped USD to a 66-30-5 record and four NCAA College Cup appearances. In his second year as a head coach in 2004, he guided USD to a 12-8-2 overall record, a 5-1-1 mark in the difficult West Coast Conference, and a second round appearance in the NCAA College Cup, maintaining USD's streak of six consecutive postseason appearances. For his efforts, Greenwood was honored as both the 2004 West Coast Conference Coach of the Year and the 2004 San Diego Union Tribune Coach of the Year.
WITH HONORS: The University of San Diego is returning all three All-WCC selection from 2005. Leigh Ann Robinson was a second-team selection after recording one game-winning goal and had an assist while serving as a mainstay in the Toreros midfield. Two All-WCC honorable mention honoree's also make a return in 2006, senior midfielder Veronica Ambort and sophomore defender Christina Carriaga. Ambort started off slow in 05 as she was battle through some injuries, but as the season progressed so too did Ambort and she finished her junior season with one game winning goal against Saint Mary's College. Carriaga was a huge help to the Toreros backfield as she helped USD bolster a 1.90 goals-against-average.
TOREROS PICKED TO FINISH FIFTH IN WCC: The University of Portland, who won the 2005 national title, were tabbed as the favorite to win the 2006 WCC crown. The Pilots received five first place votes to tally 47 overall points. Santa Clara University, which welcomes back 10 starters from last season's team that advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals, was selected second with 45 total points and received three first place votes. The Broncos are followed in the poll by a pair of 2005 NCAA Tournament participants in Gonzaga University (34) and Pepperdine University (31). Selected fifth was the University of San Diego with 23 points, Loyola Marymount University was tabbed sixth with 21 points, while Saint Mary's College (15) and the University of San Francisco (7) round out this year's preseason poll in seventh and eighth place, respectively.