Tough defense carries USC women’s lacrosse past Arizona State

Kelsey Huff’s six goals helped No. 17 USC outplay the Sun Devils at the Coliseum.

USC women’s lacrosse defeated Pac-12 rival Arizona State 17-10 at the LA Memorial Coliseum Friday afternoon.

The No. 17 ranked Trojans are now 7-2 overall with a 4-1 record in the Pac-12. The Trojans lost their first Pac-12 game last Sunday, losing 15-14 in overtime to the Stanford Cardinal.

“We learned from our mistakes, we did a ton of film, worked out the kinks in practice,” junior defender Olivia Dooley said about the team’s preparation following their loss to Stanford. “We knew that there wasn’t a lot for us to fix, but it was the little tweaks that went a long way in this game.”

Clearly, their preparation paid off.

“I’m just really proud of our girls, to come back after a tough loss in overtime to Stanford, to come back and learn from that, and come ready to play today,” said head coach Lindsey Munday. “I thought we showed great poise today, throughout the game.”

The Sun Devils scored the first goal of the game, though both teams finished the first quarter with three goals apiece. The Trojans never fell behind after that, outscoring the Sun Devils by three in the second quarter, and four in the second half.

“We knew we had to get into their hands to stop the early goals, slowing them down right when they got the ball early in transition was a key for this game,” Dooley said. “Getting on their hands, getting pressure and not letting them feed it into the inside.”

The Trojan defense succeeded in getting in the faces of the Sun Devils, forcing 27 total turnovers. The Trojans also struggled with their own turnovers, giving away 20 to Arizona State.

“We just took a deep breath, especially in the clear, we took an extra second to find the midfielder and then push the transition that way,” Dooley said about the Trojans’ efforts to cut down on turnovers. “On attack we changed the plays up and worked together and really just had each other’s back to pick up those balls that went down on the floor.”

“I think it’s a testament to both defenses,” Muday said. “We were both playing with a kind of higher pressure, so it’s going to lead to that, a little more chaos. Again, it’s just taking a deep breath and really being disciplined amidst the chaos, which is a hard thing to do.”

On offense, graduate midfielder Kelsey Huff had six goals, achieving her 30th career hat trick and third career game with six or more goals. Huff’s six goals bring her total up to 38 goals on the season, which leads the Pac-12.

Huff was joined on the scoreboard with a hat trick from freshman attacker Maddie Dora (3), as well as sophomore attacker Shelby Tilton (2), sophomore midfielder Maggie Brown (2), sophomore attacker Claudia Shevitz (2), redshirt freshman attacker Isabelle Vitale (1) and junior attacker Ella Heaney (1).

The Trojans’ next game will be played in Ann Arbor, Mich. on April 3. The No. 23 Wolverines are 9-1 this season, and 1-0 against Pac-12 opponents, having defeated the Sun Devils 11-9 back on Feb. 18.

“We just take it game by game. We really just focus on our next game, every game the same, with the same mentality, just go in there and give it our all,” Dooley said. “We just have to keep our heads focused for right now, not looking at the big picture and just looking at the next game going forward.”