Following a heart-wrenching overtime 11-10 victory against Northwestern, the No. 3 USC women’s lacrosse team hits the road facing No. 4 Florida on Friday at 6:30 p.m. EST and Stetson on Sunday at 12 p.m. EST. For the Trojans, this marks their first games that they’ve played in the state of Florida as well as their first time playing a top five opponent while ranked in the top five itself.
With a 2-0 record, the Trojans exhibited solid defense against Northwestern, anchored by junior goalie Gussie Johns who notched 17 saves and eight ground balls to tie the program record. Johns’ stout performance earned her MPSF Defensive Player of the Week honors. Johns and the entire Trojan defense were successful when they worked in conjunction with one another in order to shut down the Wildcat offense.
“Our strength is playing as a unit,” head coach Lindsay Munday said. “We are best when all eight players, including the goaltender, are playing together.”
Freshman midfielder Kerrigan Miller was also instrumental in the Trojan victory, scoring the game-winning goal and recording her first career hat trick. With three caused turnovers, two ground balls and a draw control in addition to her strong offensive performance, Miller was named MPSF Rookie of the Week.
“Her confidence — and it’s really kind of a quiet confidence — is what I notice the most. She’s really hard on herself and wants to continue to get better and be the best for this team and that’s what’s been exciting to see,” Munday said of Miller.
In just a short amount of time, Miller along with the other nine freshmen have assimilated into the team culture.
“All the girls are super warm and welcoming and I hope that the freshmen felt that as they came in,” senior midfielder Drew Jackson said.
Jackson attributes the Trojans’ success on the field to the strong bonds between the girls. The team looks to carry this team-oriented and collaborative mindset into competition this weekend.
“We learned how much team chemistry we have,” Jackson said. “Being able to stick together and stick to what we know, we learned a lot.”
While the Trojans emerged victorious on Saturday, Munday acknowledges that the girls have growing room in preparation for a tough upcoming schedule.
“Northwestern is a phenomenal team, and we need to keep getting better from last week and we don’t have a lot of time to do it before another really great test against Florida,” Munday said. “They’re extremely fast, extremely athletic and extremely talented so we need to get better from Saturday.”
Heading into a stacked weekend as they travel to Florida, the Trojans are focusing on taking it one step at a time and continuing to build on their foundation.
“It was our first overtime win, so I think we need to build on that and make sure that no matter what the score is we’re always locked in mentally,” Munday said.