Women’s lacrosse aims to score back-to-back Pac-12 titles

USC looks to build on last season’s success and become national title contenders.

Graduate attacker Ella Heaney (10) and senior midfielder Claudia Shevitz (23) are returning players that look to bring the Trojans another Pac-12 Championship. Last season, Shevitz was named Pac-12 Midfielder of the Year and Heaney made the Pac-12 All-Conference Second Team. (Sarah Ruiz / Daily Trojan)

USC women’s lacrosse begins this season seeking its first back-to-back conference championships since the 2016-17 season.

The Trojans went 16-4 (9-1 Pac-12) last season, on their way to both the Pac-12 regular season and tournament title. This success placed them at No. 23 in the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse rankings and clinched them a spot in the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse championship, where they fell 7-10 to the University of Denver in the first round.

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“We are happy about last year and winning the Pac-12’s,” said Head Coach Lindsey Munday in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “But the girls are motivated for more … Hopefully, we’re in that same spot come the end of April.”

Munday is entering her 12th season at the helm for USC. Through the past 10 seasons, Munday holds a 139-58 (.706) overall record with a 76-18 (.808) mark in conference play, including six NCAA tournament appearances and four conference titles. For her exquisite coaching, Munday has won two Pac-12 Coach of the Year awards — in 2019 and 2023 — and two Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coach of the Year awards — in 2015 and 2016.

This season, expectations are sky-high for USC as it enters the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association preseason rankings at No. 17. Additionally, the Pac-12 conference revealed the women’s lacrosse preseason coaches poll, which had the Trojans sitting atop the eight-team group.

“It’s cliche, but it’s cliche for a reason. Pressure is a privilege, and I think that’s something that we don’t necessarily take lightly,” said senior midfielder Claudia Shevitz. “I think we’re No. 1 in the Pac-12 and all the girls at practice and our coaches think we’re No. 1 in the Pac-12. Just having that mindset, but not letting it cloud our judgment is really important to us.”

Shevitz was a huge contributor to USC’s success last year and will need to play at a high level again if the Trojans want to be national contenders. She compiled 41 points with 36 goals and five assists, picked up 20 ground balls and accumulated 27 draw controls, earning her recognition as the Pac-12 Midfielder of the Year.

Another key player to look out for this season is redshirt junior attacker Isabelle Vitale. The New York native was named to the Pac-12 All-Conference First Team by tallying team-highs in points with 72 and assists with 35.

Including Shevitz and Vitale, the Trojans are bringing back 27 players from their Pac-12 championship team last season. A veteran team with experience will be helpful for USC in crucial games, especially in late May.

“It’s exciting because you’re kind of able to push the limits a little bit,” Munday said. “You have a veteran team. You kind of hit the ground running and just really continue to build off the things that you’ve already done, and then implement new things for the future as well.”

Graduate attacker Ella Heaney is one of the veterans Munday and the rest of the coaching staff can count on. She has made an All-Pac-12 team in each of the last three seasons and had the second most points on the team last year with 59.

“Now that I’m older, I’ve had a bunch of different team cultures throughout the years,” Heaney said. “This one’s definitely one of the closest bonds that we’ve had throughout the team, which is something that we really worked on to implement off the field, which factors [into] on the field.”

One last factor to keep an eye on is the Trojans playing home games in two different locations. With USC Athletics building the brand new Rawlinson Stadium, USC will host its home games at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, and the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

“First and foremost, we’re thrilled and excited and grateful for the new Rawlinson Stadium that we’ll be able to play in in 2025,” Munday said. “For this year, we’ll have to adapt a little bit … The Coliseum is all time. It’s iconic. So to be able to play in there, we’re really excited about it.”

The Trojans begin their 2024 slate against No. 15 Army on Friday at 2 p.m. at Michie Stadium.

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