The USC women’s lacrosse team is hard at work this week preparing for its final home game on Friday against the San Diego State Aztecs. Before the matchup, the team will celebrate its decorated seniors — goalie Gussie Johns, defender Lydia Sutton and attackers Alexis Kardias and graduate student Maeve McMahon — at their pregame Senior Day festivities.
The Women of Troy, who are currently ranked No. 20 in the nation in the IWLCA coaches’ poll, is looking to snap its three-game losing streak with just two games to go until the Pac-12 championships.
The pressure is on because the team has not lost four games in a row in its history. Despite recent struggles, the Trojans have been able to stand out statistically from the rest of the Pac-12. They lead the conference in goals-against averages (9.05) and caused turnovers (10.36).
Despite their success in statistics, head coach Lindsey Munday thinks there is still more room for all-around improvement.
“[We] need to get better, plain and simple,” Munday said.
One area where the Trojans have been lacking is in draw control, which can act as a great metric of a team’s dominance. Over their three-game losing streak, USC trails in draw controls won, 23-54.
In their recent encounters, the Trojans have been strong against San Diego State. In their two matchups last year, USC was dominant, winning the first 15-3 and the second 18-7. Last year was indicative of the history between the two teams; the USC women’s lacrosse team has a perfect 6-0 record against the Aztecs.
However, Munday, who boasts a 76-37 record all-time, guaranteed that the Trojans are focused on Friday’s game rather than their past success against the Aztecs. When asked if the team’s mindset had been affected by the history of success against San Diego State, Munday quickly responded, “Not at all,” before adding that the team is “focusing on taking this one game at a time” and doing what it needs to do as a team, week in and week out.
Munday’s mindset has spread to some members of the team, looking toward their Friday game against San Diego State.
“We’re a new team this year, they’re a new team this year,” McMahon said. “Whatever happened last year is in the past.”
The Aztecs (8-6 overall record) are sitting on a three-game losing streak of their own, two of which were lost by a narrow 1-goal defeat. San Diego State will be a challenge that should not be overlooked by the Trojans. Overall, the Aztecs bring forth an impressive season and a strong roster to McAlister Field.
San Diego State’s roster touts dominant players such as: junior midfielder Jill Haight, who leads the team with 31 goals, eight assists for 39 points and 60 draw controls to lead SDSU; junior midfielder Harlowe Steele, who has racked up 28 goals this season; and senior midfielder Elizabeth Rourke, the team’s distributor, who leads with 15 assists. The Aztecs’ goalie, Katy Sharretts, has started all but one game and has an impressive 12.05 goals-against average.
In spite of the recent upsets in the Women of Troy’s schedule, the team has been strong at home this season, posting a 4-2 record at McAlister Field. In its coming game, USC will need to rely on its three players who have made it onto the watch list for the Tewaaraton Award — the award given annually to the best player nationally. The Trojan’s leading scorer, sophomore midfielder Kerrigan Miller, All-American defender Lydia Sutton and All-Region goalie Gussie Johns have been linked to the award. Each of the above-mentioned players have been named Pac-12 Player of the Week at least once this season — Johns has picked up the award twice.
Since the start of the program, USC has risen in the rankings, showing no signs of slowing down, especially with the support of Munday. All things considered, the Trojans have been working hard not only as a team but on individual improvements as well. The presence of the Aztecs will not be taken lightly, as the team has certainly proved itself this year. The Women of Troy hope to come away with a win in the seniors’ last game at McAlister Field and ultimately put an end to their losing skid.