At the midway point of the lacrosse season, the No. 13 Trojans look poised to make a late season run for the conference title and national championship.
This year’s team is much improved from the 2018 team that lost to Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship and missed the NCAA championship. The 2019 team is balanced offensively and defensively, ranking No. 21 in scoring offense and No. 19 in scoring defense.
No team in the NCAA has more players scoring double-digit goals than USC with its seven players. The Trojans also have eight players in double-digit points (goals and assists), tied for most in the NCAA.
Last year, USC split games with Oregon, winning the first matchup 9-8 in overtime and losing the second 11-18. On Sunday, the Trojans blew the Ducks out 14-5. USC put up five goals in the first seven minutes, never allowing the game to get close.
Junior Kerrigan Miller, the reigning Pac-12 midfielder of the year who led the team in scoring last year, currently ranks seventh on the team in scoring. She still leads the team in caused turnovers and ground balls and is second in draw controls. Her ability to play a role as offensive facilitator without being the leading scorer shows the completeness of this USC team.
“Our team plays to win, yet no win is achievable without trust in one another on both ends of the ball,” Miller said.
There is no individual Trojan in the top 100 rankings of goals per game, showing that they boast a well-balanced attack in the game with an offense that can dominate in many ways.
USC is currently ranked No. 20 in the IWLCA coaches poll and has held a ranking on the poll for 47 consecutive weeks. It will look stay on the polls this weekend as it takes on familiar foes No. 19 Stanford and Cal.
“One of our main goals this year is to take each day at a time,” sophomore midfielder Emily Stallings said. “We have to focus on ourselves every practice and not who we play that weekend. We also have aspirations to win the Pac-12 and make it to the NCAA tournament.”
This weekend match against Cal will mark the 10th regular season match for USC. Last week, No. 23 Colorado and No. 19 Stanford snapped the Golden Bears’ four-game win streak.
The Trojans have had a successful record against the Golden Bears, with their last game ending in favor of the Trojans, 17-3. That victory has brought USC’s overall record against Cal to a six-game win streak, four of which are double-digit victories for USC.
This season five Golden Bears are in double-digit goals, led by senior attacker Kirsten Swanson and senior midfielder Eliza Christman, each boasting 20 goals.
After facing Cal on Saturday, USC will travel to face the Cardinal on Monday. Stanford is coming off wins over Oregon and Cal after suffering an upset loss to No. 23 Colorado at home.
The Cardinal are the fourth ranked opponent the Trojans have faced this season. USC currently owns 17 all-time wins over ranked foes (17-27) with an all-time meeting record of 5-6 against the Cardinals.
Past matches against the Cardinal have not always ended in favor of the Trojans, especially last season, when their devastating loss cost a chance to compete in the final NCAA tournament.
“After the NCAA selection show last year, we all sat in a room upset after not [hearing] USC called,” Stallings said.
With an intense set of matches this weekend, the Trojans hope not to repeat that feeling and that their hard work from these past few weeks reflects their performance this weekend against Cal Saturday at noon and Stanford Monday at 4 p.m.