Women’s lacrosse prepares to start 2019 season

Junior midfielder Kerrigan Miller finished the 2018 season with a .444 shot percentage. (Daily Trojan file photo)

The USC women’s lacrosse team returns for their seventh season this weekend. After a successful 2018 season, the Trojans are hard at work to show that they are back and stronger than ever. To start, the Trojans will play Hofstra University  on Saturday.

As USC begins its long-awaited season, it looks to take home the 2019 NCAA trophy.

“We are focusing on the details, the basics,” sophomore midfielder Emily Stallings said. “We are hammering in on the small things so they become natural in the game. Deemer Class is one of our new assistant [coaches], and he had brought so much knowledge and energy from the men’s game. We are working more motions that are seen in the men’s game and making things more exciting.”

Last year, the Trojans saw Stanford in the Pac-12 women’s lacrosse tournament with the goal of bringing home the program’s first NCAA championship title. Ultimately, the Stanford matchup ended USC’s three-game win streak and lost the Trojans’ automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, finishing the year with a 10-8 overall record.

Now, the Trojans will compete against Hofstra University, who finished last season 8-9 overall. To ensure success, the Trojans are adding new plays and learning more offensive strategies.

“This season, we are focusing on ourselves and what we can all do individually and collectively to guarantee our success,” Stallings said. “We don’t want to relive that feeling and disappointment, so that is a huge motivation for us.”  

Look for junior midfielder Kerrigan Miller, last year’s Pac-12 Midfielder of the Year, to lead the Trojans’ attack. She led the team in scoring last year with 36 goals and 13 assists.

Last year, the Trojans failed to capitalize on the draw, ending the season with just 207 controls to 202 losses. The team must improve in this statistical category to take the next step this year.

The departure of Gussie Johns opens up the goal for sophomore goalie Riley Hertford to take the position. Although Hertford appeared in a mere three games, the two-time Under Armour All-American shows promise, allowing only one goal while racking up five saves in the games she played.  

“Everyone is stepping up,” Stallings said. “Someone else always steps up after we lose key players. Our two goalies are both filling their roles with ease, the defense works hard to protect the goalies and the offense works hard to ride the ball in transitions to make things easier for the defense. The team is a unit, and as a whole, we all work together to fill any void.”

The Trojans should feel confident about the continuity of the team this year. Aside from the four graduating seniors the team let go, the 28 returning players have an established sense of camaraderie. As the first game approaches, every player’s motivation this season is centering around working together to keep consistency in the roster stronger to give the Trojans an advantage come game time.

The team said there will never be an easy game in their schedule. USC is facing many of the same competitors they took on last year, like No. 1 Boston College and Stanford University, which the Trojans hope to best in their rematch.

USC will host Hofstra Saturday at noon at McAlister Field.