The USC women’s lacrosse team looks to secure a playoff berth in the program’s inaugural season as it hits the road to take on San Diego State in a winner-take-all match on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The winner of Saturday’s contest will earn the fourth and final seed in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament, to be held in Eugene, Ore., while the loser will be eliminated from playoff contention. The winner of the MPSF tournament earns an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament.
“We know there’s a lot on the line in the back of our head, and we know everyone has to play their best game,” freshman attack Caroline de Lyra said. “I think everyone’s getting into the mentality that they have to have a good game for us to win.”
The Women of Troy (7-9, 4-3 MPSF) hope to carry the momentum from their previous outing, a 19-1 win over Fresno State (2-13, 0-8 MPSF) on April 20. Seven players scored at least two goals for USC in the blowout, with de Lyra leading all players with six points (two goals, four assists) while sophomore attack Olivia Gerton led all scorers with four goals and an assist. Freshman midfield Amanda Johansen finished with two goals, three assists and a career-high and MPSF-record 13 draw controls, two away from tying the NCAA record.
“We have really high momentum for this game, especially since it’s the last game and everything’s on the line,” de Lyra said. “I think everyone’s really pumped up.”
USC currently has four players with more than 30 goals on the season. De Lyra leads the Women of Troy with 48 goals and 40 assists and is No. 4 in the nation with 88 points. Johansen is second on the team with 49 points (35 goals, 14 assists), along with a team-high 5.81 draw controls per game (good for No. 7 in the nation). Freshman midfielder Paige Bonomi has 36 goals, while freshman attack Caroline Cordrey has 34. Freshman defender Courtney Tarleton, meanwhile, leads USC with 37 ground balls and 29 caused turnovers.
San Diego State (8-7, 3-4 MPSF) is currently in the middle of a three-game losing streak, with the most recent loss being a 23-16 defeat to No. 14 Stanford (10-4, 5-1 MPSF). The Aztecs are led by Michaela Jarvis, who has 22 goals and 35 assists on the season, and leading scorer Bailey Ewing, who has 44 goals.
“I think there are a lot of things we can look to that were successes this year,” head coach Lindsey Munday said. “As a first-year program, we’ve done some really great things. We’ve improved, which has been our goal from day one … At the end of the day, it’s a big game Saturday, and we’re really excited for it.”
If USC wins the match against the Aztecs, it will take on No. 11 Denver (15-1, 7-0 MPSF) in the MPSF semifinals on Friday, May 3, at 4:30 p.m.