USC hosts Oregon and Stanford in MPSF play

The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation schedule will come to a dramatic end this weekend for USC women’s lacrosse, with the team needing to beat either Oregon or Stanford to qualify for the conference tournament. Luckily for the Women of Troy (7-6, 5-2 MPSF), both games will played at home.

Friday’s contest against the Ducks (8-5, 4-1) will be played at McAlister Field, while Sunday’s matchup against the Cardinal (11-2, 5-1) will take place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It will be the first time since the opening game of USC’s inaugural 2012 season that a lacrosse game will be played at the Coliseum.

The Women of Troy started strongly in MPSF play, winning their first five conference games behind the offensive firepower of sophomore attacker/midfielder Caroline de Lyra, who leads the team with 35 points.

A pair of heartbreaking one-goal losses to Colorado and Denver, however, put the team’s chances of matching its 2013 fourth-place MPSF finish in jeopardy. Still, a win over Oregon or defending league champion Stanford would put USC in the MPSF tournament for the second straight year, an unexpected result for a two-year-old program.

Friday’s contest should pit Oregon’s high-flying offense against a more defensive-minded USC team.

The Ducks’ Shannon Propst has put up an otherworldly 60 points in just 13 games, while her teammate Carly O’Connell has notched 54. The pair should be a tough test for sophomore goalie Liz Schaeffer and the USC defense. Sophomore defender Courtney Tarleton, who leads the Women of Troy with 13 forced turnovers, will also need to be at her best.

Last year, USC defeated Oregon, 12-10, in Eugene, Ore.

Sunday’s game will be a matchup of similarly balanced playing styles.

Though the Cardinal’s Rachel Ozer is the team’s leading point-getter at only 32, the team features five other players with  more than 20 points.

De Lyra has also spread the wealth this season for USC. Three freshmen, attacker Annie Ruland and midfielders Alex Moore and Michaela Michael, have tallied more 20 points. The group will have to keep performing well to get past a Stanford defense that allows less than nine goals per game.

The Women of Troy face off against the Ducks at 4 p.m. on Friday, while Sunday’s matchup will begin at 1 p.m. and be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

Sunday also marks USC’s Senior Day, where the team will honor Ceilidh Meagher and Elizabeth Eddy, the team’s only seniors. Meagher has appeared in five games and recorded one assist this season, while Eddy has played in 12 games and scored one goal.

Last year, Stanford topped USC, 17-12, in Palo Alto, Calif.

After this weekend, the Women of Troy will travel to the Midwest to finish off the regular season, a trip that will include the first ever lacrosse game played at Wrigley Field. The matchup will take place on April 26 and feature powerhouse Northwestern, the alma mater of USC head coach Lindsey Munday.