USC Outlook for the Trojans' Inaugural Lacrosse Season

"We are really coming together as a team," said Munday. "Bringing in 17 freshmen, we expected to have to do a lot of teaching. There are also a lot of connections that need to be made across the field both offensive and defensively, but they're really coming together and working together more and more every day. Most of all, they're all pushing each other to get better and improve and really battling with each other, which is the most important factor in our improvement."

The Trojans will need to grow, and grow quickly as the regular-season schedule will test their mettle each and every week. The plan to start off with two perennial NCAA powers was no mistake as USC looks to use the experience to prepare it for the rest of the first-year journey.

"Our out of conference schedule is really tough," said Munday. "To open up with Northwestern and UMass, which are two phenomenal teams, our goal was to prepare us for our own conference. Competing in the MPSF is most important. If our non-league games can get us better and show us things that we need to work on, I think we will be far more prepared for when we start playing our conference games."

As first-year members of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, the Trojans were selected to finish in seventh in a poll of the league's coaches. USC opens up with three non-conference opponents, but will kick off the MPSF schedule with a bout against Saint Mary's College on Feb. 24, at McAlister Field. After a pair of games on the East Coast, USC will head to Northern California for two against MPSF foes UC Davis and Stanford.

A tough stretch through which the Trojans host Temple and fellow first-year program Marquette before heading back east for two more against Bryant and Brown will test USC's legs through the belly of the schedule. From there, the Women of Troy finish the regular-season on the West Coast with home games against Denver, California, and Fresno State. USC's trip to Eugene, Ore., on April 4 will be the first-ever live broadcast game for the Trojans as the Pac-12 Networks will air the game against the Ducks. USC will close the regular season with a match-up at San Diego State on April 27. The top four teams in the final league standings will head to Eugene for the MPSF championships and a shot at the automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.

While the team is young, the staff knows that it can rely on the contributions of several key players as the season gets under way.

"We have some great players," said Munday. "On the offensive side of the ball, even though she is a freshman, we expect Caroline de Lyra to be a leader out there. Her fellow freshmen Amanda Johansen and Caroline Cordrey will also make an immediate impact on the success of our team. Defensively, one of our captains Courtney Tarleton will be a key to our defense. In the midfield, Kaila Sommi and Ceilidh Meagher-also captains-will be players we're going to look to, to really set the pace of the game and do all of the little things on the field."

With so much excitement around the program, and the highly anticipated start to the season, Munday takes each day in stride and has very specific goals for her team.

"Our biggest goal is to improve," said Munday. "We want to improve every single day and to get our players to mature throughout the season. Not one person has played a collegiate lacrosse game before, so we need the Trojans to play older than they are but also to improve and have the faith that we are on the right course. We have really lofty goals for this program so we just need to push each other and get better every single day."

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