USC women’s lacrosse drops to 3-1 with loss to No. 10 Princeton

A slow start and shooting struggles led to the Trojans’ first loss of the season.

A photo of graduate midfielder Kelsey Huff cradling the ball while looking downfield. She's wearing a white USC uniform.

USC women’s lacrosse suffered its first loss of the season on Tuesday, an 18-13 defeat to the No. 10 Princeton Tigers at Soni McAlister Field, dropping to a 3-1 overall record.

The Trojans got off to a slow start, conceding the first four goals of the match to Princeton. It wasn’t until three seconds remained in the first quarter that USC managed to get on the scoreboard, thanks to a goal from graduate midfielder Kelsey Huff.

“We started too slow, and Princeton is too good of a team to dig ourselves out of that hole,” head coach Lindsey Munday said. “One thing that we like to pride ourselves on is extra possessions and 50-50 balls, and I think Princeton outplayed us in that aspect of the game today.”

The Trojans’ scoring difficulties extended into the second quarter, and USC finished the first half down 9-4 on just 4-of-17 shooting.

“I think our shooting was the deciding factor,” Munday said. “Our shooting early in that first quarter [especially].”

“We thought we were pretty prepared, but we just came out slow and it kind of bit us in the butt,” said Huff, who finished the game as the Trojans’ top scorer with five goals. Huff was joined on the score sheet by sophomore attacker Shelby Tilton (two goals), junior attacker Ella Heaney (two goals), freshman attacker Maddie Dora (two goals), redshirt freshman attacker Isabelle Vitale (one goal, one assist), and sophomore attacker Claudia Shevitz (one goal).

The Trojans had no answer for Princeton senior attacker Kyla Sears and freshman midfielder McKenzie Blake, who finished with four and five goals respectively, on top of three assists for Sears. The Tigers finished shooting 18-for-33 with 10 assists, compared to only one assist by the Trojans.

The Trojans showed more life in the second half, scoring five in the third quarter and four in the fourth on a total of 22 shots. It was not enough to overcome the Tigers, however, whose five-point lead at the end of the first half ultimately was the margin of victory.

“The second half, I feel like we played really even, and it was a fair game, but we just killed ourselves in the first half,” Huff said. “I think we really just got fired up [in the second half], and being like ‘this is our home turf, and let’s just show them that we aren’t a team to be messed with and they can’t just trample over us.’ Really just switching our attitudes [made the difference] ...We really just wanted to come out and show what USC lacrosse is.”

Despite the tough loss, the Trojans are focused on the future and improving in the coming games.

“I think offensively, we’ve got to really continue to just find our groove and find our confidence,” Munday said. “We are pretty young offensively, in terms of our game experience, so I think that comes into play mentally a little bit, where we just need to continue to get confidence that we can compete and we can battle right from the first whistle.”

The Trojans will look to bounce back against No. 23 Colorado on Friday, their first Pac-12 opponent of the season. The Buffaloes are 5-0 to start the season on the backs of fifth-year Devon Bayer and senior attacker Chloe Willard, the reigning Pac-12 Defensive and Offensive Players of the Week respectively.

“We’re looking forward to Colorado on Friday,” Munday said. “It’s our first conference opponent, so we are just excited to have the opportunity. I think after a loss like this it’s nice to be able to learn from it but also put it aside and refocus, and we have an opportunity to do that.”