The USC women’s lacrosse team was projected at the start of its inaugural season to finish seventh in the nine-team Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Not only did the team exceed expectations in its first season, but it’s still playing after the regular season has already come to a close.
The Women of Troy will play the first postseason game in program history against Denver on Thursday, May 2, at 4:30 p.m. in Eugene, Ore.
USC (8-9, 5-3 MPSF) won its final two games of the regular season, including a 12-11 win over San Diego State (8-8, 3-5 MPSF) in a winner-take-all game for the No. 4 seed.
Freshman attack Caroline Cordrey and freshman midfield Amanda Johansen each picked up four goals and an assist to lead the USC offensive attack. Freshman defender Kelsey Dreyer finished with four draw controls, four caused turnovers and three ground balls, while freshman goalie Liz Shaeffer picked up six saves.
“Going into the preseason rankings, people didn’t know what to expect from us, so I think that has a lot to do with our lower ranking,” Cordrey said. “We have really been working hard all season long, progressing every single game, getting better and better. We beat teams that were ranked above us and we’re really peaking at the right time, so right now we’re feeling good heading into the MPSF [tournament].”
The USC offense is led by freshman attack Caroline de Lyra, who ranks second in the MPSF with 50 goals, 41 assists and a total of 91 points. Johansen leads the conference with 5.59 draw controls per game and is second on the team with 39 goals and 15 assists. Cordrey has 38 goals on the season, while freshman attack Paige Bonomi has 36. Freshman defense Courtney Tarleton ranks second in the conference with 1.71 caused turnovers per game.
Denver (16-1, 8-0 MPSF) is led by attack Kara Secora, who leads the MPSF in goals with 51, and attack Jill Remenapp, who is third in the conference in assists per game (1.87) and eighth in points per game (3.33). Attack Kate Henrich leads the conference with 3.53 caused turnovers per game and 3.24 ground balls per game.
The Women of Troy hope to bounce back from their previous match against the No. 1 seed in the tournament and No. 11-ranked team in the nation. The Pioneers are currently riding a 14-game winning streak, including a 16-11 win against USC at McAlister Field on March 31.
“It’s a nice thing to play someone you’ve played before,” USC head coach Lindsey Munday said. “You understand them a little better, you know what they’re capable of, but Denver is a great team. They’ve had a phenomenal year, so we’re going to have to play really well in order to compete.”
A victory against Denver would put USC in the MPSF championship game against either No. 2-seeded Stanford (11-5, 6-2 MPSF) or No. 3-seeded California (9-6, 6-2 MPSF) on Saturday at 1 p.m. A win in the final would give the Women of Troy an automatic berth in the NCAA championship, with the first round taking place on Friday, May 10. USC’s only three conference losses this season have come against the other three teams in the tournament, but Munday feels that familiarity could work in her team’s benefit.
“It’s exciting to be able to play a team that’s beaten you before and see if you can come out on the other end,” Munday said. “I think it’s just going to take a total team effort to do it, but on any given day, any team can beat anyone. We have to go in confident and we have to go in hungry for the win, and not just happy that we made the tournament.”