USC Lacrosse Wins Back-to-Back MPSF Titles|
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April 30, 2017
LOS ANGELES -- The top-seeded USC lacrosse team (16-3) won its 10th consecutive game in a 16-11 victory over second-seeded Colorado (16-3) to claim the 2017 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament title and secure back-to-back league championships on Sunday, April 30, at McAlister Field. By virtue of the victory, the Women of Troy receive the MPSF's automatic qualifier bid into the upcoming NCAA championships. It is the Trojans' third consecutive berth in the NCAA tournament.
Senior attacker Gabby McMahon was selected as the tournament's Most Valuable Player and was joined on the all-tournament team by senior attacker Michaela Michael, junior goalie Gussie Johns, and freshman midfielder Kaeli Huff.
McMahon scored a career-high four goals and secured her fourth-career hat trick. Michael scored four goals including a pair from free position and had a game-high seven draw controls. Johns put up 13 saves and set a new school record with nine ground balls to go with two caused turnovers. Huff scored three goals for her second-career hat trick and picked up a ground ball.
Senior attacker Cynthia Del Core also scored a hat trick; the 12th of her career, and added two assists for five points. USC's other two goals came from senior attackers Kylie Drexel and Drew Jackson. Drexel added a pair of draw controls and Jackson had an assist and a draw control. Freshman midfielder Kerrigan Miller dished out two assists and grabbed four draw controls. Junior defender Lydia Sutton caused a pair of turnovers.
For the Buffaloes, Johnna Fusco had four goals including four from free position and added a pair of ground balls. Miranda Stinson scored three goals with two from free position, and Carly Cox scored two goals to go with an assist. In goal, Paige Soenksen had five saves and three ground balls. Kelsie Garrison picked up five ground balls and caused four turnovers. Darby Kiernan secured six draw controls, caused two turnovers, and handed out a pair of assists.
Just two minutes into the game, Michael worked her way into the arc and earned a free-position shot, which she turned into a quick 1-0 lead for USC, but Colorado responded when Cox went to goal unassisted to even the score at 26:46. Del Core put the Trojans in front for good when she scored at 23:29. It took another six minutes, but the goals came in bunches as McMahon took a pass from Jackson and went low to high to score at 17:35. 45 seconds later, Miller dished to Huff for the goal and then did it again 25 seconds after that to get Michael another clear shot at the back of the net. When the dust settled, USC led Colorado, 5-1, with 16:23 to play.
The Buffaloes remained patient and stopped the scoring run when Fusco scored from free position at 15:21. Colorado was able to hold off the Trojans for another two minutes, but McMahon put her second goal into the back of the net from free position and then scored again off a pass from Del Core before Jackson bounced a shot past Soenksen for an 8-2 USC lead with 11:33 until halftime. Colorado didn't falter however, and responded with three straight goals of its own--one each from Marie Moore, Fusco, and Stinson--to close the half down just three goals, 8-5.
The Buffaloes' stampede to end the first half had little effect on the Trojans in the second as they reeled off a 5-0 run to push the lead to eight goals at 13-5. The 13th goal marked the highest goal total (at the time) that either team had ever scored on the other in the all-time series history. Huff started off the Trojans' second-half story with a free-position goal, but McMahon and Del Core hooked up again for a 10-5 lead to double up the Buffs. Michael and Del Core scored back-to-back free position goals before Drexel wheeled around the crease before firing a shot high over the Buffalo goalies' shoulder for the 13-5 lead.
Down eight goals, Colorado clamped down on defense and forced the Trojans into turnovers to preserve the Buffaloes' chances. Despite stellar saves from Johns, the Trojans couldn't hold off the CU attack, which opened up a 4-0 run with goals from Cox, Fusco, and a pair from Stinson. Stinson scored her last goal with 8:25 to play to close the gap to four goals at 13-9. The Trojans battled back and won the draw and Huff snapped the Buffalo run with her goal at 6:51. A minute later, Michael scored her fourth goal of the game to put the Trojans back on top by six, 15-9. Fusco and Katie Macleay did their best to keep the Buffaloes in it and scored two more goals, but Del Core's goal at 1:49 put the exclamation mark on the 16-11 win as the Trojans bled out the clock to secure the win.
The Trojans now await selection, seeding, and the determination of their opponent in the first round of the NCAA championship tournament. USC will receive one of the 13 automatic bids into the tournament as the MPSF champion. The balance of the 26-team bracket will be formed out of at-large selections made by the NCAA committee. NCAA.com will stream the selection show on Sunday, May 7, with play set to begin with first-round games on Friday, May 12.
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.