COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Finally the best in its city, the Southern California women's soccer team is also now the best in the nation.
Marihelen Tomer and Janessa Currier scored goals as the Trojans
beat Florida State 2-0 on Sunday in the final of the NCAA Women's
The Trojans (20-3-2) had never advanced past the second round of the NCAA Tournament before this season, their first under coach Ali Khosroshahin. To make the run even sweeter, USC snapped a nine-game losing streak to top-ranked UCLA, 2-1, in Friday's semifinals, ruining the Bruins' fifth straight appearance in the Final Four of women's soccer.
The Trojans took the title with its fifth shutout of the tournament and 16th in 25 games this season. This one was the most impressive of all -- the Seminoles led the nation with 81 goals this season.
Florida State (18-6-3), playing in its third consecutive College Cup, was shut out for just the second time this season. The Seminoles were also playing in the championship game for the first time, a big step for a program that's only existed since 1995.
The Trojans defense repelled every Florida State threat, disrupting the Seminoles' smooth passing game and locking up leading scorers Mami Yamaguchi and Sanna Talonen. The duo scored 11 of Florida State's 17 goals in the NCAA Tournament.
The Seminoles couldn't even take advantage of an early 6-minute stretch when the Trojans had only 10 players on the field.
Freshman midfielder Ashli Sandoval, who assisted on USC's two goals in the semifinals, twisted her right ankle and limped to the bench with 32:09 left before halftime.
In college soccer, if a starter is replaced by a substitute in the first half, the starter isn't allowed to return until the second half. Khosroshahin gambled and left his team short-handed, which allowed Sandoval to return as soon as she got her ankle taped.
With Sandoval out, Florida State put some pressure on USC goalkeeper Kristin Olsen, but could not get a clear shot.
Khosroshahin ran down the sideline toward the training table where Sandoval was being treated and waved for her to return to action with about 26 minutes left in the half.
About six minutes later, USC defender Stacey Strong sent a long pass toward Florida State's goal and Seminoles' midfielder Marissa Kazbour deflected it to goalkeeper Erin McNulty. McNulty punched it right to Tomer, who headed it into the net for a 1-0 lead.
In the second half, Florida State was always one pass or shot away from getting the equalizer.
Olsen made a leaping save on Rachel Lim's hard, straight-on shot in the opening minutes of the half. The Seminoles got two corner kicks after Lim's shot and came away with nothing.
Yamaguchi sent a long pass from the side into the middle and Talonen miss-hit a header wide of the net with about 31 minutes left. Katrin Schmidt, another of Florida State's five international players, weaved through defenders near the 20-minute mark, then hammered a shot off the shins of one of her own players.
Currier put the game out of reach with 14:58 left in the match. Sandoval lofted a corner kick high into the goalie's box and Currier volleyed it toward the net. The ball ricocheted off a Florida State defender and Currier blasted in the rebound.
The Trojans outshot the Seminoles 18-11.
The championship game had two first-time participants for the first time since North Carolina beat Central Florida in the inaugural College Cup final in 1982.