Lacrosse Falls to No. 7/6 USC in MPSF Semifinals
April 28, 2017
LOS ANGELES -- The fifth-seeded San Diego State lacrosse team fell to host and top-seeded USC, 18-7, in the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament Friday at McAlister Field.
Despite the setback, the Aztecs (10-8) completed their most successful season to date, finishing with a program-record for victories, highlighted by Thursday's triumph over Oregon in the quarterfinals, which marked the team's first-ever win at the conference championships. Meanwhile, the Women of Troy (15-3), who are ranked seventh nationally, advance to Sunday's tournament final, where they will square off against either No. 9 Colorado or Stanford.
After USC misfired on its first three shots of the afternoon, SDSU capitalized on its first two opportunities, with seniors Kayla Deitz and Ijeoma Ikpe each finding the back of the net to give the Scarlet and Black a 2-0 advantage by the 23:50 mark of the first half.
However, the Women of Troy reeled off five consecutive goals over the next 10 minutes to vault in front for good. MPSF Player of the Year Michaela Michael capped the run with three consecutive markers, following strikes by Kaeli Huff and Drew Jackson.
The Aztecs broke out of their offensive drought when sophomore Kirstie Greenlaw scored her fourth goal of the season with just under eight minutes remaining in the period, but the Women of Troy closed the half with three straight tallies, including one by Jackson with four seconds left on the clock, to build an 8-3 cushion at the break.
Stung, SDSU was unable to generate any momentum in the second half despite a hat trick by senior Alex Watson. Fellow classmate Sarah Dorl notched the Aztecs' only other score of the period on a free position shot with eight seconds remaining in the contest.
In addition to Watson's production, SDSU received a team-high five ground balls from senior goalkeeper Katrina Reeves, who recorded 11 saves in front of the net before giving way to fellow senior Katie Merritt with 6:40 to go in the game. With her performance, Reeves finished her stellar career on The Mesa as the Aztecs' all-time leader with 405 saves and 162 ground balls.
Along with senior Casey Taggart and freshman Taylor Sullivan, Ikpe also collected two ground balls to go with a pair of draw controls and two caused turnovers, while sophomores Harlowe Steele and Jill Haight each won two draws as well.
Conversely, USC was paced by Jackson and Michael, who finished with four goals apiece, while Cynthia Del Core handed out four assists. In addition, goalkeeper Gussie Johns made five stops, including four in the second half, before yielding to Hannah Upshaw at the 6:48 mark of the second half.
Collectively, the Women of Troy outshot the Aztecs 43-15 for the contest and maintained a 28-16 advantage in ground balls and a 14-12 spread in draw controls. USC was also 21-for-22 (.955) on its clear attempts, compared to SDSU's 14-for-19 (.737) clip.
In addition to its team accomplishments, which included a 6-1 homestand in March, San Diego State landed three players on the all-MPSF team this year, including senior Kristen Hickey, who earned first-team honors, while Reeves and junior Mackenzie Lech garnered second-team accolades. The selections gave the Aztecs three all-conference performers in the same season for the third time in program history.