“Looking at our first game and then at our last game, we really improved and that was our mission. It was really important to us,” said head coach Lindsey Munday.
The Trojans battled their way to a 5-3 mark in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and claimed the final spot in the league’s postseason tournament. Despite the team’s overall 8-10 record, USC reached marked milestones on its journey into postseason play and is poised to take the next step as 2014 opens.
As a precursor to the season, Munday asked her Trojans to set aside goals. Instead, she hopes her team focuses on the process.
“In sports, it’s really easy to write down a goal,” said Munday. “But as a team, what’s most important is how we’re going to achieve goals. We’re going to focus on living out what it means to be a USC lacrosse player every single day, focusing on the process and not the outcome and controlling our efforts and attitudes.”
Several players return to the 2014 squad who were key to USC’s success in year one. Sophomore midfielder Amanda Johansen set MPSF records for draw controls in a single game (13 vs. Fresno State) and in a single season (100) on her way to IWLCA All-West/Mid-West Region First Team and All-MPSF first-team honors. Johansen was also chosen as the league’s Rookie of the Year and earned Rookie of the Week honors three times with 5.56 draw controls per contest.
On defense, the Trojans are led by All-MPSF first-team selection Courtney Tarleton. Tarleton was also a first-team All-MPSF selection and ranked second in the conference for caused turnovers (1.78 ctpg) and ground balls (2.22 gbpg). On the attack, sophomore Caroline de Lyra brings back some serious firepower as an All-MPSF second team choice. She led the team and was the MPSF’s second-leading scorer with 5.17 goals per game. In year one, de Lyra turned heads as she put up a team-high 93 points with 51 goals and 42 points.
In the net, sophomore Liz Shaeffer returns. Shaeffer was solid for the Trojans as she ranked fifth in the MPSF in save percentage (.393) and sixth in goals against average (7.39 gaa).
This year, the Trojans field a team of 37 players, including 13 true freshmen. USC played without a senior on the squad in its inaugural season and has just two on the roster in 2014. With the veteran leadership from last year’s team returning, the Trojans look to meld youth with experience as the top-10 ranked freshman class arrives on campus.
“It’s definitely exciting for us,” Munday said, “because we have some older girls, even sophomores, who are older now, as leaders. We’re trusting in our returning players to bring our newcomers along and to help them, and to grow as a unit together. It has been fun to see a mix of old and new.”
Despite the prevailing youth on the team, the Trojan staff knows that it can rely on the contributions of several key newcomers, as the season gets under way.
“We really have a strong group of freshman, this year,” Munday said. “On the defensive end Nina Kelty has been coming on really strong. In the midfield Michaela Michael, Kylie Drexel, Alex Moore, and Gabby McMahon are going to be the bulk of our midfield. In the front, we have Annie Ruland, Cynthia Del Core, and Shannon Nugent on attack. Across the board, we are going to have some newcomers come in and make statements right away.”
The Women of Troy take McAlister Field to open the book on 2014 with a Feb. 28 matchup against Marist. USC will play its first MPSF conference game as host to UC Davis on March 14. The Trojans upended the Aggies, 12-7, in last year’s meeting in Northern California. In other non-league action, USC hosts Boston College (March 6), LIU Brooklyn (March 9), Columbia (March 17), and Princeton (March 19).
USC plays its first road game on March 22, but must travel clear across the country to Amherst, Mass., for a noon game against Massachusetts. While the Trojans return home to play San Diego State on March 26, USC will brave a midseason trek that spans five conference road games. USC plays at Fresno State, Saint Mary’s College, and California, and then will make the trip out to the mountains for games against first-year program Colorado on April 11, and Denver (April 13). The Trojans and the Buffaloes will meet in a live Pac-12 Networks regional broadcast.
The Trojans close the home schedule with games against Oregon (April 18) and defending conference champion Stanford (April 20). USC and the Cardinal will tangle at the Coliseum in front of a live national television audience on the Pac-12 Networks. The Trojans will then close the year on the road with a history-making game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field where perennial power Northwestern hosts the first-ever lacrosse game at the Friendly Confines. USC and the Wildcats will meet on the Big Ten Networks for the Trojans’ third televised game of the season. USC’s regular season closes with a contest at Marquette in Milwaukee, Wis. (April 27).