No. 4 USC Takes Down No. 9 Northwestern in Overtime Thriller

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    Feb. 18, 2017

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    TORRANCE, Calif. -- The No. 4-ranked USC lacrosse team (2-0) defeated intersectional rival No. 9 Northwestern (2-2) with a game-winning goal by freshman midfielder Kerrigan Miller for an 11-10 victory at Murdock Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 18. The Women of Troy and the Wildcats met on the campus of El Camino Community College due to poor turf conditions at McAlister Field following a Southern California rainstorm.

    The Trojans were uncharacteristically defeated in the center circle (13-4 in the first half) but emerged with a 9-7 lead at the break. In a defensive struggle of a second half, Northwestern out-scored USC, 3-1, to force the game into extra time. There, USC won the draw, but costly turnovers allowed NU to have a pair of chances at goal. Both times, junior goalie Gussie Johns was there to deny the Cats.

    With under one minute left in the first half of the overtime period, the Trojans went into the attacking zone. Miller had the ball in hand for the final shot, which she took with her back to the goal to score and secure the win for USC.

    NU outshot USC, 35-28, in the game, won the center circle by a 16-7 count, and frustrated the Trojans into 20 turnovers, which included seven failed clearances. In the end, USC picked up enough ground balls (29-23) and got a stalwart performance from Johns--who had 17 saves to rank second all-time in USC single-game history--to come away victorious.

    Johns picked up eight of those ground balls herself to tie a program record. It also ties the third-highest single-game total in MPSF history. Defensively, junior Lydia Sutton played a key role for the Trojans as she racked up a career-high tying five ground balls to go with three caused turnovers. Senior defender Nina Kelty had three ground balls, a pair of caused turnovers, and secured one of USC's seven draw controls. Miller had three caused turnovers and added a pair of ground balls to go with a draw control.

    On offense, senior midfielder Drew Jackson scored her third-career hat trick and finished with four points (one assist). Jackson also contributed a pair of ground balls and a caused turnover. Senior attacker Kylie Drexel scored two goals and dished for an assist. Senior attackers Gabby McMahon and Cynthia Del Core each scored a goal apiece and combined for three ground balls. Senior attacker Michaela Michael was face-guarded for the duration of the game but managed to score a goal and picked up an assist for two points with four draw controls, a ground ball, and a caused turnover.

    For Northwestern, Mallory Weisse put up 10 saves in goal. Shelby Fredericks nabbed nine draw controls and scored a goal. Selena Lasota was the high scorer with five points (2g, 3a). Lasota also had four ground balls and two caused turnovers. Christina Esposito scored a hat trick and Danita Stroup had two points with a goal and an assist. Megan Kinna grabbed six draw controls and had six ground balls, but committed 10 fouls in the game.

    NU scored first when Fredericks found the back of the goal off a Lasota pass, but seven minutes later, USC had built a 4-1 lead with goals from Drexel, Michael, and a pair by Miller. Stroup scored at 18:34 and sent the Cats on a 4-1 run to knot the score at five-all. Lasota and Nicole Beardsley scored back-to-back goals within 30 seconds of each other to give NU a momentary lead, but Del Core responded to get her goal at 2:50 to knot the score at seven-all. Jackson took matters into her own hands and scored unassisted on back-to-back runs to give USC a 9-7 lead at halftime.

    Jackson scored a third goal to open the second half at 26:53, but it was the only goal the Trojans would get. Esposito scored two minutes later, but the teams went back and forth for 16 minutes before Lasota scored to pull the Wildcats within a goal. Esposito had the equalizer at 7:09, but both teams had chances to go ahead before the clock expired to end regulation.

    Up next, USC heads to the southeast for games at No. 3 Florida (Friday, Feb. 24) and at Stetson (Sunday, Feb. 26). The Trojans and the Gators will meet for the first time on Friday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., at 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. PT). The game will be streamed on Florida's YouTube channel. USC defeated Stetson at home last season, and will meet the Hatters once more on Sunday at the Athletic Training Center in DeLand, Fla., at noon ET (9 a.m. PT).

    For more information on the USC women's lacrosse team, a complete schedule, and results, please visit USCTrojans.com. Fans of the Women of Troy can follow the team on Instagram and on Twitter @USCTrojansLax.

    GAME NOTES

    • USC improved to 2-3 in its all-time series with Northwestern and has won each of the last two.
    • The Trojans earned their first-ever overtime victory in five all-time tries. It was USC's second overtime contest in its last three games (at Syracuse, May 21, 2016).
    • USC has won 22 of its last 23 games; 29 of the last 33.
    • The Women of Troy earned their 10th win over a ranked team and the program's sixth over a top-10 team.
    • Freshman midfielder Kerrigan Miller scored her first-career hat trick, which include the game-winning goal with four seconds remaining in the first half of overtime.
    • Junior goalie Gussie Johns put up a career-high 17 saves (10 goals against) and tied a USC single-game record (Courtney Tarleton) with eight ground balls. The 17-save performance ranks second all-time in USC single-game history. Johns picked up her 106th-career ground ball to move into second in program history. The eight ground balls also tied the third-highest total in MPSF history.
    • Senior midfielder Drew Jackson scored her third-career hat trick and had four points (one assist).
    • Junior defender Lydia Sutton tied her career best with five ground balls and also caused three turnovers.