The No. 16 USC women’s lacrosse team defeated the Hofstra Pride 9-8 in a nail-biting non-conference season opener in Hempstead, N.Y. Saturday. The Trojans have started their last five seasons off with a win and are now 2-0 all-time against the Pride.
USC prevailed with a 33-degree wind chill at James M. Shuart Stadium. Eight Trojans returned to play at home in Long Island as Trojan fans overtook the stands. In total, 24 of the 33 Trojans on this year’s roster hail from the Eastern seaboard.
Graduate attacker Emily Concialdi from Yorktown Heights, N.Y. scored the first 2 goals of the Trojans’ 2020 season and added on the game-winner in the last two minutes off a critical free possession shot.
“It was a really long pause before I had to take the eight-meter, but we practice [those shots] every single day,” Concialdi said about scoring the final goal. “And I’m always … trying to be very fast off the line while in practice and it paid off. So I was very excited and also very confident going into that because I knew I put in the work in the offseason.”
Each team scored only once in the game’s first 23 minutes. Hofstra senior midfielder Alyssa Parrella, who U.S. Lacrosse Magazine called “one of the nation’s least talked about impact players,” took the Pride’s first goal of the season off an assist from junior attacker Katie Whelan.
Hofstra sophomore goalie Jess Smith had eight saves in the first half, bolstering the Pride’s defense and proving to be a difficult obstacle for the Trojans. In total, Smith had a career-high 14 saves in the game compared to USC junior goalie Riley Hertford’s 11.
The Trojans used an aggressive offensive strategy, taking 36 shots in total with 23 of them on goal. Hofstra favored a more settled approach, waiting out the shot clock and shooting only 23 times with 19 of them on goal.
The first half ended favoring the Trojans 4-2, but the Pride returned heated at the start of the second. Hofstra senior midfielder Alexa Mattera, who scored 4 goals in total, equalized the score at 4 just three minutes into the second half. Concialdi’s dish to USC sophomore midfielder Erin Bakes brought the score to 5-4 Trojans, but 4 of the next 5 goals went to the Pride.
The Trojans struggled to gain possession of the draw, particularly in the second half. In total, the Pride carried 13 out of the 19 draw controls led by Hofstra senior defender Darcie Smith. The Pride, on the other hand, could not match the Trojans’ defensive vigor in the midfield and turned the ball over during some key clears. The Trojans won out with 16 turnovers versus the Pride’s 21. USC sophomore defender Kaleigh Brennan celebrated with career-highs of two caused turnovers and four ground balls.
“I think it was a very good game,” Concialdi said. “It showed us what we have to still work on and also showed us what our strengths are, so I think … building off of this game we’re excited to get to practice on Monday and, knowing what we have to still work on, we’ll take it from there.”
With Hofstra up 8-6, the Trojans answered by shutting out the Pride in the last 16 minutes of the game. Senior attacker Hope Anhut rolled from the back of Hofstra’s crease in order to spark the 3-0 run that would lead to a Trojan victory. Senior midfielder and Tewaarton Award candidate Kerrigan Miller, who scored 2 goals during the game, tied the match by shooting off her own rebound.
“To come back down 2 and get the last 3 goals of the game is a testament of them sticking together and trusting each other, and then really executing when it mattered,” USC head coach Lindsey Munday said.
The Trojans improved to 14-15 record in games played in the Eastern time zone and 5-3 all-time in season openers.
“I think it’s awesome,” Munday said. “It’s a starting point, the first game of the season … and so we want to continue to improve. We’re really fired up about the season and excited about where it’s going and now we just got to continue to get better every day.”
The Trojans take on the No. 8 Michigan Wolverines in their first home game of the season at Soni McAlister Field this Saturday at noon.