Women of Troy cap regular season with NCAA tournament berth

All of the work that the USC women’s soccer team put in this season finally mounted to one thing Monday — a spot in the 2010 NCAA tournament.

United · USC will face Illinois in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, where it has a chance to recapture the title it won in 2007. - Brandon Hui | Daily Trojan

The Women of Troy (12-5-3) were rewarded with the spot on ESPNU’s selection special Monday afternoon and soon after found out that they will face Illinois (13-4-1) in the first round on Nov. 12.

“I’m nervous but really, really excited,” freshman goalkeeper Shelby Church said. “We have a really good opportunity ahead of us, so hopefully we take advantage of it.”

The Women of Troy ran into some trouble early last weekend against Arizona State, finding themselves unable to come back from an early deficit. Although they lost 3-0 to the Sun Devils, the Women of Troy closed out the season on a high note, scoring five goals against Arizona — the highest total of the season — and recording a shutout in the process.

USC coach Ali Khosroshahin said he felt that the Arizona State loss was a good test for his squad.

“It was important that we respond after not doing so well on Friday,” he said. “The way we [played] Sunday spoke volumes about the character of this group.”

The Women of Troy have now made the NCAA tournament six straight years and look to defend the championship they won in 2007.

The team made it to the third round of play in 2008 after defeating Boston University 2-0 and Brigham Young University in penalty kicks 4-2, but it was ousted by rival UCLA 1-0 in a closely contested match. In 2009, the Women of Troy opened the tournament by taking Oklahoma State into overtime and then penalty kicks but ultimately fell 5-4 in the shootout.

Despite the team’s deflating exits in seasons past, Khosroshahin said he remains confident about this year’s squad.

“I have a lot of confidence in this group and [we’ve] experienced a lot of things this year that have prepared us well,” he said. “Now, it’s the final stage of the season, so let’s see what we’re made of.”