No. 5 USC Holds On for 5-4 Win Over No. 6 Notre Dame|
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April 18, 2016
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The fifth-ranked USC women's lacrosse team (15-0) went the distance to secure a 5-4 road victory over No. 6 Notre Dame (11-5) at Arlotta Stadium on Monday, April 18. The Women of Troy used a stifling defense to produce their fourth win over a ranked program this year to remain just one of two undefeated squads in the nation.
Entering the contest, USC (first) and Notre Dame (fourth) were each top-five teams in scoring offense. However, the defense from both sides starred as each side produced their lowest offensive outputs of the season. USC turned the ball over 19 times and fell short on five clear attempts, but was able to fend off the Fighting Irish despite the miscues.
Senior defender Courtney Tarleton forced a program-record six caused turnovers and picked up a ground ball while sophomore midfielder Lydia Sutton had a pair of caused turnovers to go with two ground balls. In goal sophomore Gussie Johns had 10 saves in the winning effort and added four ground balls. It was the first time this season that Johns has had double-digit saves; the fourth time in her career.
The Trojans got their offense from junior Michaela Michael who finished with three points (two goals and an assist). USC's other scorers were junior attackers Cynthia Del Core and Kylie Drexel and senior midfielder Amanda Johansen. Junior attacker Gabby McMahon had an assist, a caused turnover, and a pair of ground balls. Despite not registering a goal, senior attacker Caroline deLyra was effective in disrupting the Irish as she finished with three ground balls.
For Notre Dame, Courtney Fortunato had a pair of goals, two caused turnovers, and a pair of ground balls. Stephanie Toy and Grace Muller scored the other two Irish goals. In goal, Samantha Giacolone had nine saves and three ground balls.
Just over two minutes into the game, Notre Dame went on top off a goal from Toy. It took just three minutes for the Trojans to respond as Johansen rolled to the goal and scored after Drexel gave up her free-position attempt to pass it to Johansen. USC scored the next goal to go up, 2-1, just two minutes later on a similar play as Michael passed out of her free position to allow Del Core to go high over Giacolone's shoulder for the bell-ringer.
USC held onto that lead for five minutes until Muller capitalized off a failed Trojan clear attempt to equalize at two-all with 17 minutes to play in the first half. It was just 23 seconds before the Irish put another point on the board. Off the draw, Fortunato took a pass from Casey Pearsall on the run and scored the go-ahead goal at 16:37. Drexel had the next word as she faked two defenders to shoot low and evened the score one more time at three-all. The teams went back and forth but neither could get on the board before the first-half clock expired.
The Trojans inched ahead with the first goal of the second half when they forced a turnover deep in their own corner of the field. Johansen got the pass out to McMahon who cleared the ball and found Michael streaking down the center of the 12-meter fan. McMahon's pass freed Michael for the shot and the goal and a 4-3 lead at the 24:53 mark. The Irish had their opportunities but it wasn't until seven minutes later when Fortunato earned a free-position shot that they were able to even the score for a fourth time at four all. Just over two minutes later, Michael came out of her free position and dodged past the Irish defenders to score the game-winner at 14:58. Each team had their shots at the goal, but USC was content to melt the final 15 minutes off the clock to preserve the victory.
The Women of Troy now return home to face No. 9-ranked conference rival Stanford (12-2, 7-0 MPSF). First place in the league is on the line when the teams meet at the LA Memorial Coliseum on Friday, April 22, at 4:30 p.m. PT. The game will be carried live on Pac-12 Los Angeles and Pac-12 Bay Area. On Sunday, April 24, USC completes the regular-season schedule with its Senior Day against UC Davis at noon PT on McAlister Field.
For more information on the USC women's lacrosse team, please visit USCTrojans.com. Fans of the Women of Troy can follow the team on Instagram and on Twitter @USCTrojansLax.