No. 19 USC Set For Rematch With No. 5 Blue Devils|
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Feb. 17, 2016
LOS ANGELES -- Armed with a convincing season-opening victory, the 19th-ranked USC women's lacrosse team (1-0) now gets to show the country what it is made of when the Women of Troy take on No. 5 Duke (2-1) in the Orange County Winter Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 20, at Lebard Stadium in Costa Mesa, Calif. The Trojans and the Blue Devils will draw at 7 p.m. PT in a special east-meets-west game presented by the Orange County Chapter of U.S. Lacrosse.
USC, having won its season opener for the first time in program history, is after more than just a win against the Blue Devils. It was Duke that ended the Trojans' history-making postseason run in the 2015 NCAA tournament. The Blue Devils hosted and turned away the Women of Troy, 17-9, in the second round. No doubt, USC will have revenge on its mind when the first draw goes up. At 1-0, the Trojans are already off to the program's best start in their four years on campus, but a 2-0 start with a win over a top-5 opponent would sweeten the pot significantly.
When the Trojans take the field, they will face a top-10 ranked opponent for the eighth time, and are seeking the program's first victory against such a foe. USC is no stranger to knocking off a favored team though. The Trojans stunned No. 13 Stanford in 2014 and then served notice that their 2015 NCAA tournament berth was no fluke by beating No. 19 James Madison in the first round.
The Women of Troy are a well-balanced offensive and defensive unit. The Trojans showed just some of their firepower by scoring 10 goals in 10 minutes against Stetson last week. 11 different Trojans scored goals led by junior attacker Michaela Michael who had six. The Hatters rarely had an opportunity to counter as USC held them to a 4-for-16 clearance rate and allowed Stetson to shoot just four times in the game. The Trojan defense was stingy a season ago, but this group may be even more adept at stifling opposing offenses.
SCOUTING NO. 5 DUKE (2-1): Duke has three games under its belt as the Blue Devils travel west for a rematch of last season's NCAA second-round game in Durham, N.C. Duke opened the season with a 20-4 win over Campbell, but fell, 11-8, to then No. 5-ranked Northwestern. The Devils rebounded to take out Navy, 18-9. Attackers Kelci Smesko (9g, 5a) and Kyra Harney (9g, 7a) lead the Duke offense. Freshman attacker Olivia Jenner paces the Devils with 24 draw controls and also has nine points (7g, 2a) this season. Senior goalie Kelsey Duryea has 31 saves and a 7.60 goals-against average. Duryea also leads the Devils with 13 ground balls. Midfielder Maddie Crutchfield does a little of everything with four goals, two assists, six ground balls, and five draw controls through three games. 21st-year head coach Kerstin Kimel is 259-124 (.676) at the helm for the Blue Devils. USC and Duke have met just one other time. The Blue Devils hosted the Trojans in the second round of the 2015 NCAA tournament and earned a 17-9 victory on Koskinen Field.
LAST TIME OUT: The Women of Troy beat Stetson, 21-2, to open the season. It was USC's first ever season-opening win. Michaela Michael scored six goals and earned 12 draw controls to propel the Trojan attack. Michael was later named the MPSF Offensive Player of the Week. In all, 11 different Trojans scored including Annie Ruland and Drew Jackson who recorded three-goal hat tricks. 11 different Trojans caused USC's collective 15 forced turnovers. USC out-shot the Hatters, 37-4, and held Stetson to a 4-for-16 clearance rate in the game. It took the Trojans just 10 minutes to build a 10-0 lead in the game.
ON THE HORIZON: After they face Duke, the Trojans will have two weeks off before they begin a three-game stretch of non-conference home games. USC hosts Michigan (March 4), Vermont (March 6), and Stony Brook (March 14) at McAlister Field to begin a busy month.
MPSF PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Junior attacker Michaela Michael was named the MPSF Offensive Player of the Week following USC's 21-2 dismantling of Stetson to open the season. Michael had six goals (one assist) and finished with seven points to go with 12 draw controls and a caused turnover. Michael's six goals matched her career high, set one other time against Colorado in 2015, and her 12 draw controls tie for third most in MPSF single-game history. The honor is Michael's third weekly award from the league. She was named Rookie of the Week once in 2014 and was chosen for Offensive Player of the Week in 2015. Overall, USC has had eight offensive and defensive award winners to go with five rookie honorees.
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. The Women of Troy will appear on five Pac-12 Networks live broadcasts this spring and will also be shown on MaxLaxOC.com (vs. Duke, Feb. 20), Mountain West Network (at Fresno State, Mar. 31), Altitude TV (at Denver, April 10), and on ESPN3 (at Notre Dame, April 18). USC's non-televised home games at McAlister Field will be webcast on the USCTrojans.com Pac-12 Networks portal.