USC Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach is no wildcard. She’s a Wildcat.

Five-time Northwestern NCAA championship player and coach, Tewaaraton Award semifinalist, and US National Team captain, Coach Munday was the ace dealt to USC when the school added women’s lacrosse in 2012.  As head coach, Munday launched a program that is now ranked No. 2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, hungry for a second NCAA tournament appearance and a deeper run.

In an exclusive interview with MaxLaxOC.com, Munday tells us why we should be “all in” for USC women’s lacrosse at the inaugural OC Winter Invitational game between USC and Duke this Saturday.

Orange County Winter Invitational

There are teams you underestimate, and there are teams who have you anything but guessing. Whoever comes out on top should be worth your bet. USC took a leap of faith and bought into women’s lacrosse when it joined the rest of the university’s powerhouse sports four years ago.

“There was emotional support from USC,” Munday said. “They said, ‘We’re in it, and we expect you to be successful.’ ”

In February 2013, USC Women’s Lacrosse launched its program with a season opener against Munday’s former team, Northwestern.  With 17 freshmen on a 26-player roster, Coach Munday had expectations of her own.

“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,” she told Inside Lacrosse before the game.

Northwestern defeated USC 18-5 in front of more than 2,000 fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 9, 2013.  As Munday gears up for the , she recalls the feeling of playing in front of a large crowd.

“It’s always great playing for a bunch of fans,” she said. “The Duke game has over 1,000 tickets sold already.  That’s really exciting.”

Two years after the steep loss against Northwestern, USC played the Wildcats again and lost by only one, 12-11 in overtime.  Continuing with rapid improvement since then, USC has stepped up its search for talent to add to its roster.

Munday described USC’s reach into the local girls’ lacrosse community:  “We try to provide big winter and summer camps and clinics throughout the year.  They are great opportunities to be around our coaches and players.  Our No. 1 priority is to grow the game and get players better.  That’s what you see in SoCal.”

Though USC’s typical home game attendance is not similar to the crowd that will greet the Trojans on Saturday at OCC, Munday still appreciates the local lacrosse community.

“I think it’s so exciting,” she said. “Because [SoCal lacrosse] is still relatively new, people are still excited about it.  On a huge level, people are buying into the sport.  When we first got here, not everyone knew what it was.  Having more and more opportunities for lacrosse is very exciting for the young players out there.”

15 Munday, Lindsey HC - McG (2)
John McGillen Photography

There are several reasons why #DUKEvsUSC matters to Southern California lacrosse.   MaxLaxOC.com gave you five.  Here are Munday’s:

“Fans and young players being able to see lacrosse at the highest level is always a good thing.  It’s always an inspiring thing,” she saaid. “To see the speed and the skill and the strength of top-level lacrosse is inspiring.  It’s such a cool thing that we can continue the momentum of growing lacrosse in Southern California.  Girls can have players to look up to and say, ‘I can do that.’ ”

Besides the Trojan talent we will see at #DUKEvsUSC, what kind of perspective will Coach Munday hope to impart to the community watching?

The “intangibles” she learned to value from mentor and Northwestern Head Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller are key.

“The biggest thing is just a belief,” Munday said. “At the core of when I was at Northwestern, we tried to translate that to the field.  You have to believe.  You have to believe in your teammates, in yourself, in your coach. Believe there’s a plan. When it’s a really, really hard day, believe and trust through the growing pains. It’s about those intangibles. The ‘buy-in.’ Even if you’re an established program, if you can have that belief and that trust, you’ll be in good shape.”

Purchase your tickets for the #DUKEvsUSC inaugural OC Winter Invitational game now! The Trojans and Blue Devils face off at OCC in just five days.  Be there Saturday, 7 p.m. MaxLaxOC.com will live stream the event.  @Maxlaxocgirls will also be there!

Michelle Mendoza is a graduate of El Toro High School and Chapman University, where she played NCAA D3 lacrosse. Follow her on Twitter @michelledm18.

Orange County Winter Invitational

 

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