Johns and Wills Set For 2017 Debut at Team USA Spring Premiere|
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Saturday, January 14
Sunday, January 15
Jan. 13, 2017
SPARKS, Md. -- USC lacrosse junior goalie Gussie Johns (Washington, D.C./St. Stephens and St. Agnes School) and associate head coach Devon Wills will each don the red, white, and blue, as members of Team USA for this weekend's Spring Premiere at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Johns and Wills are each part of the 25-player U.S. Lacrosse roster which will eventually send 18 players to the 2017 World Cup.
The two-day event will be live streamed free of charge on the US Lacrosse website. Team USA women will face Florida on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 3 p.m. ET (noon PT) and then take on Notre Dame at 10 a.m. ET (7 a.m. PT) on Sunday, Jan. 15. The U.S. men's national team will play Notre Dame at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The U.S. women's national team, preparing for this summer's Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Cup in Guildford, England, will make roster cuts following this weekend's event. Head coach Ricky Fried will pare his 25-woman roster down to 20 players after the Spring Premiere. The FIL limits countries to 18 players for formal international competitions.
The U.S. has won the last two World Cups and had a busy 2016 calendar to prepare for the World Cup. The U.S. swept Florida and Syracuse at last year's Spring Premiere, went 5-0 on a summer tour of England, conducted a grueling three-day tryout, played an intra-squad game at the Grand Opening of the new US Lacrosse headquarters, and then went unbeaten during the Fall Classic in October with wins over Australia, Canada, England, and defending NCAA champion North Carolina.
"Ultimately, our goal is to win the gold medal, clearly, but it really is to elevate the game as a whole and continue to move it forward," Fried said earlier this week. "Everyone was excited about how we played in the last World Cup (a 19-5 gold medal victory against Canada), and we're looking forward to making sure everyone is excited again -- and not trying to replicate that, but making sure we are moving forward and are taking a step up, as opposed to just resting on our laurels."
Team USA's opponents completed the 2016 with impressive records. Florida is coming off an 18-2 season in which it won the Big East and reached the NCAA second round. Notre Dame had a bounce-back season, finishing 14-7 and advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion North Carolina.
Johns led the nation in goals-against average in 2016 (6.04 gaa) and was All-MPSF and IWLCA All-Region as a sophomore. She helped lead the country's top defense (5.80 gaa) last season and was the team's leader in ground balls (49). Wills is the owner of two FIL World Cup gold medals, one each from the 2009 and 2013 championships. In 2009, she was named the Player of the Match in Team USA's 8-7 win over Australia in the championship game.
In 2016, USC (20-1 overall) had a record-setting season, in which the Trojans won the MPSF regular season (9-0) and tournament championships. The Women of Troy earned the No. 5 seed in the NCAA championship and advanced to the quarterfinal where they fell in overtime to Syracuse. It was the furthest any team from the MPSF had ever gone in the NCAA tourney. Fifth-year head coach Lindsey Munday was named MPSF Coach of the Year for the second straight season and reached the 50-win plateau in her fourth year at the helm (51-26 overall).
Follow the U.S. women's national team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube at @USLacrosse and using hashtag #USAWLAX. 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.