Courtney Tarleton, who notched three ground balls and forced a crucial turnover in women’s lacrosse’s 11-5 upset over No. 5 Duke Saturday, has earned MPSF Defensive Player of the Week honors.
This marks the second career defensive weekly award for Tarleton and the 14th certificate for the USC program.
“She’s been the anchor of our defensive unit for a long time now and I think the defense as a whole played really really well on Saturday,” head coach Lindsey Munday said on Tarleton. “It was really a team effort and all eight people including the goalie really stepped up. Courtney did a phenomenal job coming up with those ground balls and being a vocal and physical leader on the field on Saturday and we need her to continue to do that throughout the season.”
Continuing to build upon the momentum they created in their commanding 21-2 victory against Stetson, the Trojans demonstrated discipline and grit, holding the Blue Devils to just 11 shots and 14 forced turnovers. Tarleton remained an instrumental component of the Trojan defense, leaving Duke scoreless for a crucial period of 25 minutes in which the Trojans maintained a strong 9-3 lead.
In their best season in just four short years as a program, the Trojans’ second win against Duke marks the first time in program history that the team beat a top-10 team and just the third victory against a ranked team in school history. For the Trojans, this win was especially sweet as the team’s 2015 season ended at the hands of Duke in a 17-9 loss in the second round of the NCAA Championships.
“We definitely thought back to last year,” Tarleton said. “They scored 17 goals against us so going into it we knew we had to hold them to a much smaller number if we wanted to even come close to winning. But we just wanted to stay together the whole entire game and when things got tough, to come together and make sure we fix it for the next play.”
With a 2-0 record heading into the remainder of the season, the Trojans look to maintain a strong defensive unit that has allowed just seven goals between their two games. Offensively, the Women of Troy’s execution of shots and cohesion has led them to record a combined 32 goals between their two contests against Stetson and Duke. With Michaela Micheal earning MPSF Offensive Player of the Week last week, and junior attacker Kylie Drexel recording four goals against Duke, the Trojans have depth on both sides of the field and hope to continue to build upon the success they have created in their initial games.
“We just want to keep getting better,” Tarleton said. “We’re really lucky to have these two weeks off from games because it’s really a time to just come together and battle in practice and we know that we can’t be satisfied with just beating a top team now, we have to keep getting better throughout the season.”
In an upcoming bye week, the Trojans will prepare for a home stretch with two contests slated for March 4 against Michigan and Vermont on March 6.