The accolades keep coming for a women’s lacrosse team still in its infancy but already making an impact on the national stage.The latest comes with sophomore goaltender earning a spot on the U.S. national lacrosse team, announced Aug. 7, the first Trojan to do so in the program’s four years of existence.Gussie Johns will be one of five goalies on the 36-player roster to represent the U.S. in 2017. She has backstopped the Women of Troy for the season, earning MPSF All-Conference Second Team honors her freshman year.Last season, Johns was one of the best goaltenders in the country, leading the nation with her 6.04 goals-against average. In 20 starts, she went 19-0 and was tied for the MPSF lead with 49 ground balls per game. She was the MPSF Defensive Player of the Week twice and a vital contributor to the nation’s top defensive team.Head coach Lindsey Munday was the captain of Team USA in 2013 — a year when the team clinched a world championship.“We are so proud of Gussie,” Munday said. “Not only is she an immense talent, but she is an incredible person who embodies the attributes of a Trojan. She puts the team before herself and works incredibly hard both on and off the field. This selection to the national team could not be more well-deserved and is a proud moment for her, our staff and the USC program.”Also representing USC on the team will be associate head coach Devon Wills, making the team for the ninth time, and assistant coach Alyssa Leonard, who is making her third appearance. Wills already has two championships under her belt, including being named World Player of the Game in 2013.The team was announced after a three-day tryout at the national team training center in Sparks, Maryland. There were 105 players from around the country selected for the tryout. Seniors Courtney Tarleton, Kelsey Dreyer and Amanda Johansen and junior Michaela Michael were also invited from USC.Team USA coach Ricky Fried said the field was talented and tough to narrow down.However, the field will be sliced in half to 18 players by the time actual competition starts for the national team. The team of 36 will train for the Federation of International Lacrosse Women’s World Cup next year in Guildford, England.
As Syracuse regrouped in the locker room at halftime, head coach Quentin Hillsman informed his team they had committed 10 turnovers — five short of SU’s per-game average. University of Maryland Baltimore County wasn’t even applying full-court pressure. The only thing preventing Syracuse from pulling away was sloppy play. “We had to take care of the ball,” SU point guard Kiara Lewis said. “That was keeping them in the game.” In the second half, Syracuse did just that, coughing the ball up just twice. In the deciding third quarter, which the Orange won 26-12, they scored eight points off UMBC turnovers without committing any of their own. By limiting their mistakes and turning UMBC (2-7) turnovers into points, Syracuse (5-4) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 82-48 win in the Carrier Dome. “That’s our goal, to make sure we get a shot every time down the floor,” Hillsman said. “We want to make the defense work, to crash the boards and get some offensive rebounds, and the way you can do that is to get the ball on the glass. Not letting the ball go out of bounds or having a live-ball turnover. So I thought we did a good job in the second half.” Early on, SU couldn’t build a comfortable lead despite forcing seven turnovers and going on a 9-0 run in the first quarter. The Orange shot 2-for-10 from behind the arc in the game’s first 10 minutes and coughed up six turnovers, leading only 17-15 after the first frame.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFreshman guard Teisha Hyman and junior forward Digna Strautmane said SU needs to start games with more “intensity.” Hillsman said his players may have been fatigued from their recent road trips — Sunday was SU’s first home game in two weeks. But the second quarter began with more of the same sluggishness. After a Gabrielle Cooper turnover, two UMBC players ran down the court with only SU point guard Lewis between them and the basket. But before the Retrievers could get a layup in transition, Lewis picked off their back-and-forth lob pass inside.On the other end, Taleah Washington drove to the basket, but her layup missed. The helter-skelter sequence represented a frantically-paced half in which both teams struggled to protect the ball. UMBC, which commits an average of 20 turnovers per game (309th out of 348 in nation), turned it over 21 times, while SU recorded 12 turnovers in total.Still, Syracuse went into halftime with a 38-27 lead fueled by and-1 conversions by Lewis (12 points, five assists, four steals) and Amaya Finklea-Guity (13 points, seven rebounds).In the second half, Syracuse clicked on offense, scoring 26 points without turning the ball over once in the third quarter. After she intercepted a kickout pass halfway through the third, Cooper took the ball coast-to-coast and finished a layup to give Syracuse a 24-point lead, capping a 17-4 run. As the Orange forced turnovers, they often found forward Digna Strautmane spotting up along the 3-point line. Strautmane took all but one of her shot attempts from behind the arc, finishing 5-for-9 from deep for a team-high 17 points. Typically, teams force her to put the ball on the floor by running her off the 3-point line. “Maybe they didn’t scout me enough because usually teams we’ve played before take away my shot, so I have to find other options to score,” Strautmane said. “I was shocked, too.” As Strautmane paced the offense, SU’s defense continued to generate steals and blocks. At one point, when UMBC beat Syracuse’s press, Cooper hustled back on defense, knocking the ball off a Retrievers’ leg and out of bounds before she could attempt a layup.To start the fourth quarter, Lewis snagged a steal in the press and fed Hyman for an easy lay-in, extending SU’s lead to 27. Hyman gave Syracuse a jolt off the bench with 16 points, three assists and no turnovers in her 16 minutes.UMBC – Syracuse’s final non-Power 5 team on its schedule – presented Syracuse an opportunity to get back on track. Orange head coach Quentin Hillsman said he scheduled top-ranked nonconference opponents to prepare his team for ACC play, which begins on Dec. 29. These “opportunities” to compete with the best teams in the nation — No. 1 Stanford, No. 3 Oregon and No. 24 Michigan — give his team the best chance to earn resume-boosting wins and have built “toughness,” he said. So far, SU has come up empty-handed, going 0-3 against ranked opponents while dropping out of the AP poll. Syracuse’s bounce-back win on Sunday came off a loss to Michigan in which SU committed a season-high 24 turnovers.“We’ve tested (ourselves) so no one in the country can look at this team and say, ‘They didn’t play anybody.’ They’re going to say the opposite,” Hillsman said.Syracuse entered Sunday’s contest on a three-game losing skid, the program’s first since the 2013-14 season. A loss would’ve given SU its first four-game losing streak since 2009. The Retrievers, on the other hand, rode a five-game losing streak into the Carrier Dome, and their turnovers led them to exit with a 34-point loss.“To get back home and play well, I’m really, really pleased for that,” Hillsman said. “Second half was fantastic.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on December 8, 2019 at 4:10 pm Contact Danny: firstname.lastname@example.org | @DannyEmerman