USC Lacrosse Swims With Dolphins in NCAA First Round|
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May 10, 2017
LOS ANGELES -- The two-time defending Mountain Pacific Sports Federation champion USC lacrosse team (16-3) will make its third consecutive appearance in the NCAA championship and faces Jacksonville (14-5) in a first-round matchup on Friday, May 12, at the Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT). Should the Women of Troy defeat the Dolphins, they would advance to meet third-seeded and No. 2-ranked site host Florida (17-2) in the second round on Sunday (May 14) at noon ET (9 a.m. PT). The Gators have a first-round bye.
USC enters the tournament on a 10-game win streak, which ranks as the second longest in program history (20 in 2016), and seeks to improve on a run that took it to a quarterfinal appearance last year. The Trojans are 2-2 in NCAA tournament games and hold the distinction of being the first team from the West Coast ever to advance to the national quarterfinals. The Trojans have won 36 of the last 40 contests and are led by fifth-year head coach Lindsey Munday (67-29 at USC).
Two-time All-American and two-time MPSF Player of the Year Michaela Michael (71g, 17a, 116dc) guides a potent attack with fellow seniors Cynthia Del Core (31g, 28a), Kylie Drexel (34g, 19a), and Gabby McMahon (34g, 7a). Junior goalie Gussie Johns has a 7.52 goals-against average and leads the country in ground balls (4.47 gbpg). MPSF Rookie of the Year Kerrigan Miller (31g, 15a) is a threat at any position and on defense, senior Nina Kelty (23gb, 13ct) and junior Lydia Sutton (31gb, 25ct) anchor the Trojans' back line.
SCOUTING REPORT - JACKSONVILLE: The Dolphins (14-5) won the Atlantic Sun Conference to receive the league's automatic berth into their fourth NCAA tournament in the last five seasons. Jacksonville avenged a regular-season loss to the Chanticleers and defeated Coastal Carolina, 11-10, in the ASUN championship game after erasing a 6-3 halftime deficit. The Dolphins have won their last four games and are 5-1 on the road. Jacksonville and USC will meet for the first time in the programs' histories. The Dolphins have been eliminated in the first round in each of the three previous years they have advanced to the NCAA tournament: once by Massachusetts (2015) and twice by Denver (2013, '14). An ASUN Co-Player of the Year, Danielle Della Rocca leads the Dolphins with 72 points (57g, 15a) this season. She has also racked up 18 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers. Erika Brager is the ASUN's Defensive Player of the Year and leads Jacksonville with 55 ground balls to go with 32 caused turnovers and 21 draw controls. In the center circle, Ashtyn Hiron has 73 draw controls this season. She has also scored 35 goals, dished out 12 assists, and picked up 39 ground balls with 28 caused turnovers. The ASUN Tournament's MVP, Hannah Wilcox has 20 goals, 18 assists, 35 draw controls, and 29 caused turnovers. In the cage, Sydney Matthews has 15 starts with a 13-3 record. She has a 7.87 goals-against average with a .476 save percentage.
ONE TO WATCH: Senior attacker Michaela Michael is among the 25 nominees for the prestigious Tewaaraton Award. She was also a nominee in 2016. At the beginning of the spring, Michael, junior goalie Gussie Johns, and junior defender Lydia Sutton were each named to the official Tewaaraton Award Watch List. Johns and Sutton are first-timers on the list, and join former All-American Amanda Johansen who was also on the 2016 Watch List. Courtney Tarleton was not on the Watch List, but was one of the 25 nominees alongside Michael in 2016.
A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN: The Trojans won back-to-back MPSF regular-season and tournament crowns to earn a third consecutive trip into the NCAA championship tournament. Previously, the Trojans advanced to their first MPSF final in 2015 and were semifinalists (2013) and quarterfinalists (2014) in the two previous seasons. USC tied a league record with 18 straight MPSF regular-season wins dating back to the end of the 2015 season. The Trojans were undefeated in MPSF games in 2016 (9-0) and 2017 (8-0).
IT WOULD BE AN HONOR: Senior attacker Michaela Michael was named the 2017 MPSF Player of the Year and became just the fourth player to earn multiple POY awards (2015). It also marked the third consecutive season in which the league's Player of the Year has been a Trojan (Courtney Tarleton, 2016). Freshman midfielder Kerrigan Miller was chosen for Rookie of the Year honors and is the second USC player to receive that distinction (Amanda Johansen, 2013). Miller is also the first freshman to make the MPSF All-Conference first team since 2014. In all, seven Trojans received All-MPSF honors. Junior goalie Gussie Johns, junior defender Lydia Sutton, and senior attacker Gabby McMahon were each on the first team while senior defender Nina Kelty and senior attacker Kylie Drexel were chosen for second-team honors. The Women of Troy have had 29 All-MPSF selections in five seasons (18 first team, 11 second team).
TRACK THE TROJANS: Fans of USC 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 appeared on four Pac-12 Networks live broadcasts this spring and were shown on Ivy League Digital Network (at Dartmouth, March 17), AmericaEast.tv (at Stony Brook, March 24), Florida's YouTube channel (Feb. 24), and HatterVision (at Stetson, Feb. 26).
LAST TIME OUT: The Trojans won their second of back-to-back MPSF titles by defeated San Diego State, 18-7, in the semifinals, and then taking down then ninth-ranked Colorado, 16-11, in the title game. It was the third consecutive conference championship match for the Trojans, and the final one in the history of the league as core of the conference's teams move to the Pac-12 in 2018. Senior attacker Gabby McMahon was named 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.
EAST COAST BIAS: USC has played 18 games on the East Coast and holds a 7-11 overall record in those games. The Trojans own wins over Stetson, Dartmouth (2), LIU Brooklyn, and Marist in true road games. USC defeated James Madison at a neutral location in the 2015 NCAA first round in Durham, N.C.; and beat Ohio State in a game played in New Jersey. This regular season, USC has played games in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. The Trojans also played two for the first time in Florida earlier this season.
USC NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY: The Trojans received the program's first-ever bid into the NCAA tournament in 2015. USC advanced to its first-ever MPSF tournament final, where it lost to Stanford, but received an at-large berth on the strength of a 13-5 regular-season record. The Trojans defeated James Madison in the first round in Durham, N.C., but fell to site host Duke in the second round. A year later, USC secured the MPSF's automatic bid into the tournament by winning the conference tournament. The Trojans entered the NCAA tourney with a 19-0 record and became the first-ever West Coast team to host NCAA games. As the fifth seed, USC also received a first-round bye and then took out league rival Stanford in the second round to become the first-ever West Coast team to advance to the NCAA quarterfinals. The Trojans traveled across the country where they were eliminated by fourth-seeded Syracuse in Syracuse, N.Y., in a heartbreaking 12-11 overtime finish. USC is 2-2 all-time in NCAA tournament games.