The scratched, they clawed, they fought their way back, but in the end, the Women of Troy were unable to overcome the 10-3 deficit they faced at halftime and dropped a home game 16-11 to Denver on Sunday at McAlister Field.
After losing two straight road games, one against Bryant and one against Brown, the USC women’s lacrosse team had nine days off before Sunday’s game against the Pioneers. The extra rest appeared to leave a bit of rust, however, as the team came out and immediately fell behind.
Freshman attack Caroline Cordrey led the Women of Troy (5-8, 2-2 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) with four goals on six shots as USC closed out the month of March with a three-game losing streak and a 3-6 record in nine games. Freshman midfield Amanda Johansen added three goals, two assists and eight draw controls.
Meanwhile, attacker Rachael Dillon led the Pioneers (11-1, 3-0 MPSF) with 4 goals and an assist.
Despite the team’s excitement for the return home from its Rhode Island trip, the weather seemed more like Rhode Island than it did Southern California. Perhaps distracted by the elements, USC allowed Denver to jump out to a 3-0 lead a little more than eight minutes into the game, and stretched it out to a 10-3 lead at the half behind 3 goals from Dillon. Cordrey, sophomore midfield Kaila Sommi and freshman attack Caroline de Lyra all scored for USC, which was outshot 18-11 by the Pioneers at the half.
“Their goalie [Hannah Hook] is really awesome,” freshman midfielder Amanda Johansen said. “Her save percentage is super high, and she’s one of the best goalies in the nation. We had the opportunity, but we need to take that extra step and just shoot a little more around her. We learned that in the first half, and we came out in the second half and we were doing just that. Denver’s offense really capitalized on all their plays.”
Denver goalie Hook earned five saves on USC’s 16 shots on goal, while USC freshman goalie Liz Shaeffer saved eight of Denver’s 24 shots on goal.
Denver looked as if it was going to extend its lead against the Women of Troy after scoring the first goal of the second half to take an 11-3 lead. But USC was able to respond, scoring four unanswered goals (two from Cordrey) to cut the lead to 11-7, fighting through a slight drizzle that started around seven minutes into the second half and subsided before the game ended.
Denver buckled down after that, however, outscoring USC the rest of the way. Overall, USC outscored the Pioneers 8-6 in the second half, with both teams taking 11 shots.
Though the result was disappointing, players were pleased with the way they responded after falling behind early in the game.
“After playing for half an hour, you notice little things that give you opportunities, like you can notice where the defense likes to go, where the open places are,” Johansen said. “We just used that to our advantage. We fed to the spots that were open and we took it when they sent the double.”
USC head coach Lindsey Munday offered was concerned about the team’s slow start, which has become something of an unwelcome trend as the team inches closer to the postseason.
“You have to learn from every game, win or loss,” Munday said. “Certainly in this one, it’s pretty obvious we have to come out in the first half and play and compete better than we did. For us, it’s happened before, so we really need to figure out what we need to do in order to come out from the opening whistle and play hard.”
During its current three-game drought, USC has been outscored 40-27, only managing to score in double digits once. On the season, the team has scored more than 10 goals in a game eight times, winning five of them.
The Women of Troy continue their slate of conference games on the road, taking on Oregon (5-5, 0-1 MPSF) on Thursday, April 4 at 4:30 p.m. They return back to McAlister Field for a pair of games against California (5-4, 3-0 MPSF) on Friday, April 12, at 3 p.m. and Fresno State (2-6, 0-2 MPSF) on Thursday, April 20, at 3 p.m.