What a better way to kick off your NCAA Division I program than play your first game in front of thousands at the beautiful Los Angeles Coliseum. To earn such an honor, the USC Women of Troy squared with Northwestern in a game that will be little remembered for its final outcome.
The storylines in this matchup could practically write a Friday Night Lights script as USC and Norhtwestern took the field Saturday. The announced crowd of 2890 took in the event with excitement and anticipation for what lies ahead in this New Era. Northwestern won the game 18-5, but when all is said and done the Trojans came out victorious.
“It’s really exciting to get a game over with first and foremost, these 26 players will be cemented in history here at USC,” according to Head Coach Lindsey Munday.
First and foremost, the USC Women’s Lacrosse Team had never played an organized game before and featured 17 starters on their team. The USC Women of Troy threw out nine freshmen in the starting lineup, an NCAA record, one of many broken on this day.
This team of youngsters battled a unit that has won six of the last seven national championships. Northwestern is the Duke of Basketball or Alabama in Football, building a strong network of success all over the country by dominating the sport.
“When you can play an exciting, fast-paced style we can really comete,” according to Coach Munday. “You can’t get away with anything against Northwestern, this is a really great opportunity for us before league play.”
Unfortunately for USC, the Wildcats came out firing against the inexperienced Trojans. Northwestern scored their first goal of the game at the 26:13 mark of the first half as Taylor Thorton drove to the net and scored from the 8-meter box.
After storming out to a 4-0 lead in the first 10 minutes, USC fans were getting anxious for when their team could light the lamp. Freshmen Amanda Johansen recieved a nice pass from Caroline de Lyra and finished past the netminder to give USC their first ever goal. Fans went wild for a good amount of time, with traditional USC Band Cheers to cement the scoring play.
In traditional USC fashion, fans screamed “you can’t do that” and “Air Ball” when Northwestern made mistakes, bringing some brevity to the epic event. The first half was dominated by NW in terms of time of possession because the Wildcats did not lose a Draw in the entire half.
By halftime, Northwestern was leading 11-2 but a nice vibe was flying through the Coliseum as USC started to play more comfortably against top-notch competition. “In the second half we really started to compete,” says Lindsey Munday.
In the second half, Amanda Johansen took matters into her own hands and ran across the entire field, eventually scoring the Trojans second goal. The play was honestly one of the best moves from either team, receiving applause from Northwestern Head Coach Kelly Amont Hiller.
Although Northwestern played many of their reserves for the second half, USC hung around with the Wildcats only losing 7-3 in the 30 minute frame. The final score read 18-5, but for the Trojans none of that really mattered.
“It’s great to finally get the juices rolling again, against a great team like Northwestern,” said Caroline de Lyra. De Lyra is considered the best offensive weapon this team has by Head Coach Lindsey Munday and definitely looks like it, scoring once and assisting on two others goals in the game.
One of the only negatives to note was the amount of goals Northwestern scored because of Trojan mistakes. The Women of Troy allowed five unassisted goals and seven free position shots. That basically means, USC fouled Northwestern within the scoring box and was given in essence a penalty shot at the keeper.
On a quick side note, the stars were out for this historic game as Khaled Holmes, Pat Haden, President Nikias, and Lane Kiffin were all on the field for the festivities. The true stars of the day however were the girls who shined on the Coliseum grass.
After the game, coaches Lindsey Munday and Kelly Amont Hiller exchanged a nice hug after the homecoming for the two Lacrosse legends. Northwestern’s Hiller coached current USC coaches Munday and Hilary Bowen during their playing days from 2003-2006.
The emotions were not all for just the coaches as the team signed autographs for about 300 fans who stuck around to meet their new players. A moment that these players have dreamed about for practically their entire lives.
The USC Women of Troy continue their opening-weekend tournament against No. 13 UMass on Sunday. UMass lost to Northwestern by 11 on Saturday, so transitive property predicts a good game from McAllister Field.