GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Scoring the most goals in its postseason history, the Jacksonville University women's lacrosse team concluded its 2017 season Friday in a 13-10 decision to Southern California in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Jacksonville previously scored eight goals in each of its last two NCAA appearances, and notched seven in the second-half alone versus the Trojans.
"I definitely think this was our best NCAA performance," said head coach Mindy McCord. "The resiliency that this team shows. I have to bring it back to our seniors. We have such a core group of kids with a high desire and passion that weren't going to go down without a fight.
"I really wish we could go back and repeat the first half, not let those two goals in at the end or a couple more saves or a couple more goals, but we really rallied hard. A few more minutes on the clock and it could have been a different story because we really had all of the momentum."
Southern Cal struck first in the opening minute of play, and maintained a 5-1 edge through the midpoint of the period. Its first four goals were tabbed on free-position opportunities, and it scored seven unanswered until the force that was MacEllen McDonough.
Coming off of the bench, the junior midfielder notched back-to-back goals at the 5:21 and 2:43 marks to join teammate Erica Beal in the scoring column.
Though USC tacked in a pair of goals just before the half to enter the locker room up, 10-3, momentum swung in favor of the Dolphins. Six of their eight shots were on target, and Sydney Matthews was a solid figure in the net with six saves.
Picking up where she left off in the ASUN Championship, Jody Julmice scored her third goal in two games to start the second period (22:54), before McDonough partnered with Danielle Della Rocca to cut JU's deficit in half, 10-5, with 15:31 remaining.
Equally as explosive in the second half were Jacksonville's defensive efforts. Goalkeeper Mariah Cudlipp thwarted a Trojan free-position shot and her backline caused three turnovers as the scoreboard read 11-7 with 10:44 left.
The final three scores of the game came from the sticks of the Green and White with Jaime Chapman, Della Rocca and Julmice finding the back of the net. All three scores were captured in the last three minutes.
Della Rocca finished the afternoon with a hat trick, while Chapman, McDonough and Julmice each added two goals. Both Matthews and Cudlipp registered six saves.
"I don't think we came out too nervous or overconfident. We just knew that we couldn't make as many errors. You have to truly play more of a 60-minute game to compete at this level," continued McCord. "Taking the next step for us, people have to get better and they've got to emulate that resiliency, desire and passion to compete for playing time and spots. Our culture is one of our best benefits, and why people want to come out here and grind. "
Jacksonville concludes the season with its fifth ASUN Conference regular season title, fourth tournament title, the ASUN Player and Defensive Player of the Year, seven all-conference honorees and an overall record of 14-6.