USC women’s lacrosse is heading into what is probably its biggest weekend of the season. Sitting at 6-0 in the MPSF conference and 10-3 overall — with their three losses coming to top-10 ranked opponents — the Women of Troy have a serious opportunity to run the table in the conference, with just three MPSF matchups remaining before the end of the regular season.
In order to accomplish the feat, however, the team will have to go through two Northern California opponents in UC Davis on Friday and Stanford on Sunday before a regular season finale with fellow SoCal dweller San Diego State next week.
The game against UC Davis should serve as an appetizer to the main course meal of Sunday’s Stanford matchup, as the Aggies enter Friday’s contest with just a 3-10 overall record and 2-3 conference record. The Aggies have won two of their last three conference matchups, however — an 11-6 victory over Fresno State and a 13-8 win over California — and will look to provide some resistance against a red-hot USC team on a mission for conference perfection.
UC Davis is led by two prolific attackers in senior Elizabeth Landry and sophomore Melissa Kellan. Together, Landry (36) and Kellan (26) have accounted for 62 of the Aggies’ 102 total goals this season and 79 of the team’s 129 points. Landry also leads the team with 64 draw controls on the season.
Senior defender Allie Lehner and junior midfielder Mary Doyle will also need to be held in check, as their strong numbers in hustle statistics indicate an ability to cause problems for USC. Lehner has 29 ground balls, 27 draw controls and 19 caused turnovers this season, while Doyle has 22 ground balls, 34 draw controls and 10 caused turnovers. In goal for the Aggies is senior Kai Murphy, who has made 95 saves this season while allowing 116 goals scored, a save percentage of .450.
Following Friday’s matchup, the Women of Troy will prepare for their biggest conference game of the season against No. 15 Stanford. The two teams currently sit atop the MPSF with undefeated records, meaning Sunday’s game could very well determine the winner of the conference.
The Cardinal enter the weekend at 5-0 in the MPSF and 9-2 overall. They will host the San Diego State Aztecs on Friday before their matchup with USC.
Stanford features a remarkably deep and balanced offensive attack. A pair of midfielders in junior Lucy Dikeou and senior Hannah Farr lead the Cardinal with 31 and 27 points, respectively, but the team has an impressive 10 players who have double-digit points scored this season.
Stanford’s defense has been less formidable than its offense, surrendering an average of 10.27 goals per game. Freshman goalie Allie DaCar has made 49 saves while allowing 93 goals, a save percentage of .345.
The Cardinal’s defensive numbers suggest that there should be some healthy opportunities for USC to put goals home. Leading the offense for the Women of Troy will be sophomore Michaela Michael and juniors Caroline de Lyra and Amanda Johansen.
Michael was just named the MPSF Offensive Player of the Week and the Epoch/Lacrosse Magazine’s National Player of the Week after scoring nine goals, winning 11 draw controls, picking up four ground balls, dishing two assists and causing a turnover as the Women of Troy defeated Colorado 12-9 on April 10 and Denver 16-4 on April 12.
Michael leads the team with 39 goals this season and sits in second place in total points scored thanks to her eight assists. She has also tallied a remarkable 80 draw control wins.
Ahead of Michael in points scored is de Lyra, who has tallied 54 points on an even-split of 27 goals and 27 assists. Johansen resides in third place on the team points list, with 39 points from 31 goals and eight assists. Johansen has also tallied 18 ground balls, 41 draw controls and 15 caused turnovers this year.
Defensively, the Women of Troy will be led by three every-game starters in sophomore Nina Kelty, junior Courtney Tarleton and senior Kaitlyn Couture. Anchoring the defense will be freshman goalkeeper Gussie Johns, who has allowed 93 goals while making 51 saves this season, a percentage of .354.
The Women of Troy are looking to finish the season with an undefeated conference record in just their third year as a program.
Though one regular season contest will remain against San Diego State on April 25, the upcoming weekend matchups in Northern California are as critical a set of games as the team has had all season.
Friday’s game with UC Davis kicks off at 4 p.m. Sunday’s clash with Stanford is set to begin at 3 p.m. and will be covered by the Pac-12 Networks.