USC Lacrosse Opens 2015 Against No. 5 Northwestern|
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Feb. 4, 2015
LOS ANGELES - The USC women's lacrosse team (0-0) will break the seal on 2015 as host to perennial power No. 5-ranked Northwestern (0-0) on Saturday, Feb. 7, at the LA Memorial Coliseum. Opening draw between the Trojans and Wildcats is set for 3 p.m. PT. The Women of Troy also hosted the seven-time NCAA champions in February of 2013 in the program's historic first game. The `Cats claimed an 18-5 win at the Coliseum. In 2014, the teams met at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field in Chicago for another historic game in which NU came away with a 12-7 victory. USC head coach Lindsey Munday and assistant coach Alyssa Leonard are each Northwestern alumna.
The last time the Trojans took the field at the Coliseum, USC claimed the program's first-ever win over a ranked opponent as it took down No. 13 Stanford, 11-10, on April 20, 2014. The one-goal differential was certainly a welcome sight as the Trojans found themselves on the wrong end of the final horn several times last year. USC lost five games by two goals or fewer, and one more by just three goals.
A tall task waits with the arrival of the Wildcats. Under head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, Northwestern has won seven national championships in the last 10 years. The `Cats were runner-up once and national semifinalists in the three years in which they did not claim the crown.
This is not the same USC squad of years past however. The Trojans are longer in the tooth and are led by the return of four All-MPSF selections including three players that were IWLCA All-West Region. Junior attacker Caroline de Lyra scored 28 goals and dished out 21 assists in 2014 while junior midfielder Amanda Johansen reigned supreme in the center circle with 55 draw controls and 25 goals. Junior defender Courtney Tarleton anchored the Trojan defense with 33 ground balls and 25 caused turnovers. As one of two USC freshman on last year's all-conference team, sophomore defender Nina Kelty returns after a 2014 campaign with 21 ground balls and 10 caused turnovers.
The whole of USC's squad has matured, but an infusion of youth could be what pushes the Trojans to new heights. The Women of Troy welcome the nation's No. 5-ranked recruiting class (Inside Lacrosse) and should see big contributions from two players who were among the top 10 recruits in the country. Gussie Johns was the No. 6-ranked prospect and considered the best goalie in the incoming class while Lydia Sutton was rated No. 8 and was a member of the Canadian National Team. Joining Johns and Sutton are Kelly Brown and Alexis Kardias.
TRACK THE TROJANS: Fans of USC women's lacrosse can follow the Trojans on Twitter and Instagram. For a behind-the-scenes look at the program, scores, and news updates, follow @USCTrojansLax. All of USC's 2015 home games at McAlister Field will be webcast on USCTrojans.com via the Pac-12 Networks web portal.
TROJANS PICKED THIRD IN MPSF: A preseason poll of head coaches in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation had the Trojans in third place. USC trailed defending regular-season and tournament champion Denver, which received seven first-place votes to hold the top spot, and perennial conference power Stanford, which had the other three first-place ballots. It is the second year in a row that the coaches have tabbed USC third. The Trojans finished 2014 in a tie for third place. In the program's inaugural season, USC was selected to finish in seventh place, but exceeded expectations with a fourth-place finish.
TOUGH SLEDDING: USC's schedule is as tough as they come. The Trojans will face five teams that were in the NCAA tournament last season. The Women of Troy start the season with Northwestern, which was a national semifinalist a year ago. Boston College (Mar. 30) was an NCAA quarterfinalist in 2014. Stony Brook (Feb. 20) and Denver (April 12) each advanced to the second round, and Stanford (April 19) made a first-round exit. In addition, Marist has NCAA tournament experience, as does Dartmouth, which was the 2006 runner-up.
STATE YOUR CASE: The Trojans' roster is made up of players from 10 different states. New Jersey leads the way with 10. Nine squadwomen come from New York while eight are from California. USC has two players from the state of Georgia and one each from Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington. The Trojans also have one player from Washington, D.C.
IN CONTROL: Junior midfielder Amanda Johansen has amassed 155 draw controls in her career. She set a new MPSF single-game record with her 13 draw controls in a 19-1 win over Fresno State on April 20, 2013. Johansen has reached double-digit draw controls in a single game twice in her career. She had 10 against Presbyterian (Feb. 15, 2013). She is also the MPSF's single-season record holder with 100 draw controls in 2013.
WELL GROUNDED: Junior defender Courtney Tarleton led the Trojans with 23 caused turnovers in 2014 and was second on the squad with 33 ground balls. Tarleton set a new USC single-game record with eight ground balls against Northwestern on April 26 during a historic game at Wrigley Field in Chicago.