It's been a turbulent year for USC Lacrosse. Despite graduating the vast majority of their offensive production, they entered the season ranked eighth in the country. They were expected to dominate the Pac-12 and contend with the toughest teams in the nation. Instead, they bounced around the standings until sliding down to No. 12 after starting out 2-2 with a one-goal loss to Stony Brook and a 9-5 loss to Northwestern.
They then lost an overtime thriller to No. 4 Boston College in their home opener. They’d rebound to win five of their first six conference games, the only loss coming in overtime against fellow top 25 member Stanford in Palo Alto. It seemed as though they were living up to their expectations within the conference but continuously falling just short of competing with the nation’s elite teams, particularly when they played on the road.
But after downing a struggling Cal squad, USC has struggled against Pac-12 teams as well. They’ve now lost three straight, including a seven-point loss to Oregon after falling behind 14-3 at one point in the game, enacting the mercy rule. But the players and coaches aren’t giving up hope for a successful run in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments.
Sophomore Kerrigan Miller, who leads the team in scoring with 28 goals, says the team is responding well to the turbulence.
“This group of girls is like no other team. The bench has been awesome, they always get us riled up so they are huge contributors. They may not be on the field but they contribute a ton and our captains have been huge in just getting us together and getting us to rally,” she said.
Miller went on to point out that the team’s youth has delayed the process of them figuring out how to play together. “We are trying, at this point in the season, to build our team together so that when we go into tournament play we’re all on the same page,” she said. “And we all can expect a role out of each other and can come out with a win.”
Coach Lindsey Munday echoed that statement, saying the effort to get back in the win column can’t come from just one player. “I think that all of us, staff included, need to look in the mirror and see what we all can do better,” she said. “I think the girls are doing that and we are trying to push them and get back to the basics and get back to the roots of the program.”
Perhaps luckily, the team will get a break from Pac-12 action when they host San Diego State at 3 p.m. on Friday at McAlister Field. The Women of Troy and Lady Aztecs last met in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation semifinals in 2017, when USC ran away with an 18-7 win, improving their record against SDSU to a perfect 6-0.
SDSU is 8-6 overall and is in the midst of a three-game losing streak of their own. They haven’t played a game against a ranked opponent since February when they lost to both Denver and Colorado by scores of 17-12.
Friday’s game will also be Senior Day for USC as it marks the final home game of the season for the Women of Troy. Seniors Gussie Johns, Lydia Sutton, Alexis Kardias and graduate transfer Maeve McMahon are scheduled to be recognized before the game in honor of their contributions to the program.
Following the matchup with SDSU, USC will travel to Tempe, AZ to take on Arizona State for its final regular season game. Sitting at 7-7 overall and 5-4 in conference play, both of the next two games are important for USC’s seeding in the Pac-12 tournament. They are currently just one game behind Oregon (8-5, 4-3) who, after they face an underdog in Cal, is set for tough matchups with Colorado and Stanford to close out the year. If USC can win out and Oregon drops two of their next three, USC will enter the tournament as the #3 seed and gain a favorable matchup in their first game.
You can watch USC take on SDSU at 3 p.m. on Friday on Pac-12 Network Plus and follow the team on Twitter and Instagram for live updates, highlights, and more @USCTrojansLax.