Lindsey Munday made her point clear Saturday afternoon.
She was concise.
During a two-minute video played during halftime of USC’s inaugural women’s lacrosse game at the historic Coliseum, the Women of Troy’s first-year coach appeared on the video board on the west end of the stadium and stated plainly toward the end of the clip: “Our goal is to win a national championship.”
Not bad, huh? She didn’t, in the recorded video, exactly shy away from the declaration. No apologies. No nonsense. Her remark was refreshing. It was honest. It was simple.
Look, the excuses for Munday and her new program are built in. They’re easy to spot, and you would have a tough time faulting her for citing any of them. One, the women’s lacrosse program is playing its first season as a varsity sport at USC. Two, her team is incredibly young: Of the 26 players on the roster, 17 are freshmen and seven are sophomores. There are no seniors and just two are juniors. And to fill those spots — to build her team — she gets to use just 12 scholarships. It isn’t like football recruiting. You don’t get to offer everyone full rides.
She didn’t mention any of those things following Saturday’s opener.
Munday, 28, is keeping with her basic approach. For the program’s first game, she scheduled No. 1 Northwestern University, where she played from 2003-06 and served as an assistant from 2007-10, and then No. 6 Massachusetts on Sunday. Mind you, the Wildcats have won seven NCAA championships in the last eight seasons.
“They’re the top in women’s lacrosse right now, and to be able to show our girls where that is and to show them at times we can compete with [Northwestern] gives them confidence we can get there,” Munday said.
“There” is the pinnacle of the sport. Of course, USC still has a ways to go. Against Northwestern, the Women of Troy fell by a final score of 18-5 in front of a crowd of 2,890. They trailed the entire game and were down 11-2 by halftime. A day later, they led Massachusetts 6-4 early, but again fell, 18-9. They’re now 0-2.
But give Munday and her upstart program credit: They’re gunning for No. 1. They’re looking to make a splash. They sure aren’t sucking their thumbs, if you will. They want to win the NCAA championship.
“It’s something that is there for us and we’re not scared to go out and say it,” Munday said.
For whatever reason, USC, as a whole, has gone soft in the last couple years. The excuses have consistently trickled out of Heritage Hall. For football, it’s been the postseason ban and scholarship reductions, the “10 fewer guys,” as USC head coach Lane Kiffin so often puts it. For men’s basketball, it too was scholarship reductions and injuries, former coach Kevin O’Neill was quick to point out. For baseball, it’s been the school’s status as a private school, seemingly a limitation when it comes to recruiting and signing high school athletes.
Not that these circumstances aren’t valid, but the frequency gives off a sort of “woe is me” sound bite. And, really, for USC, with its 96 NCAA championships and all the tradition, isn’t that kind of talk beneath the school’s athletic programs?
Which is why listening to Munday on Saturday was so refreshing. She talked about the process, about learning from the matchup against Northwestern, about improving each week, about doing well in conference play (the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) and about winning NCAA titles, at least eventually. There wasn’t a litany of excuses offered. She kept it simple. She kept it direct. After all, she’s won before under Kelly Hiller at Northwestern.
And the hope stands that that success can translate to USC. Her mentor, at least, appeared optimistic.
“I have a lot of respect for Lindsey,” said Hiller, who took over the Wildcats’ program in 2002. “She’s an amazing role model for her student athletes and a good friend.”
Munday hopes to follow that success of winning and winning championships. She brought it up in the first team meeting in the fall.
“In general, when you set goals, it’s important to reach for the stars,” Munday said. “To put out there what you want, so you know it’s there and not this vague idea of success or what you want to be — We know that’s it for us.”
Well put. That’s the end game.
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