With one conference win under their belts, the No. 4 Trojan lacrosse team will take on No. 9 Northwestern on Saturday at noon. Due to imminent weather conditions, the game has been rescheduled to Murdock Stadium at El Camino College in Torrance, Calif., where it will be played on their turf field.
With a 1-0 record, the Trojans are looking to build off the strong momentum from last season as the reigning MPSF regular-season tournament champion. The team also made program history, competing in the NCAA quarterfinals to end the 2015-2016 season with a 20-1 overall record.
In their four encounters, the Wildcats lead the all-times series 3-1 against the Trojans, but USC claimed its first win last spring with a 14-11 win in Evanston, Ill. Northwestern, which is head coach Lindsay Munday’s alma mater, presents a tough opposing team with a strong defensive unit, highlighted by sophomore goalie Mallory Weisse, who notched double-digit saves nine times in her career and earned the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday.
Setting the tone with a 20-2 victory in its season opener against St. Mary’s, USC exhibited depth and offensive prowess with goals from 12 different Trojans. In the wake of this commanding win, the Trojans look to take it one game at a time and continue to focus on improving each and every day.
“For us, it’s always about focusing on ourselves and getting better from the day before and the game before, but we need to be ready for a full 60 minute battle,” Munday said. “They’re a phenomenal team, so we need to be ready to battle.”
With this competitive mindset, the Trojans are concentrating on restricting the Wildcat offense and maintaining ball control.
“We want to make sure we stop some of their big shooters that rip pretty far outside,” senior attacker Kylie Drexel said. “We want to make sure that we slow them down and limit our turnovers and transition.”
With the loss of 15 graduating seniors from last year’s roster, returning veteran attackers Michaela Michael, Drexel and the Trojan seniors have risen to the challenge of leading by example.
“They’ve done a great job of really taking all of these younger players under their wings and being great role models and leaders for the younger group,” Munday said.
This year, USC has added nine freshmen to the squad, and Munday feels that their youth has contributed a fresh perspective and commitment to building on the success that the team has created in just five years of the program.
“They bring a new energy and they just continue to buy into the foundation of the program,” Munday said.
One of the key factors in the Trojans’ success has been the camaraderie between the girls and confidence that each member has in themselves and the team.
“We have players that buy in and they believe — from day one of this program, people have really bought in, and they believe that we can get to where we are right now,” Munday said. “For us, that’s all we can ask as coaches — for people to work hard, to have fun and believe in themselves and each other and this group. And they’ve really done that.”