On Tuesday, the 2017 Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association placed the Trojans at the top of the country’s competition, awarding the team the maximum of 64 points and eight first-place votes. After winning the MPSF championship last season, USC became the first team from the conference to reach the NCAA quarterfinals.
Last year’s squad also set milestones with 20 consecutive victories, setting the conference records for total wins and winning streak. The team finished with a No. 5 ranking in the final IWLCA Poll.
This is the first time in the team’s five years on campus that it has started with a predicted finish of a championship victory. The Trojans were chosen over Stanford, which came in second place, along with Colorado and Oregon. Stanford was the only other team to receive a single first-place vote besides the Trojans and received 56 total points in the poll.
This year, each team in the MPSF league will play in an eight-team round-robin schedule. The schedule will be slightly altered after last year’s departure of Denver, which now is part of the Big East conference.
After the best finish in the school’s history, the Trojans will return a core unit of players from last year’s team. Junior goalkeeper Gussie Johns will return in goal after securing a spot on the U.S. national team and leading the nation in goals-against average last season. The team will also return two players from last year’s defense, which was ranked No. 1 in the country. Senior defender Nina Kelty and junior midfielder Lydia Sutton will both look to protect the net for the Trojans.
Also returning will be all-time leading scorer and 2015 MPSF Player of the Year Michaela Michael, along with senior attacker Kylie Drexel. The team will take to McAlister Field for the first time on Feb. 11 against Saint Mary’s College, looking to defend their new place at the top of the nation’s rankings.