LOS ANGELES – On Monday, March 17, the Columbia women’s lacrosse team took to the field for its first test in the west against USC in a down to the wire St. Patrick’s Day matchup. Jessie Ambrose and Margaret Sinzer both scored a pair of goals to lead the Lions, however the Trojans saw scores from seven different players to edge Columbia 9-8.
The battle for an edge began early in the game for both teams on Monday afternoon. The Lions struck first behind a goal from Paige Cuscuvitch about four minutes into the game at 26:47. The Trojans scored the tying goal just 10 seconds later, a response that became a trend in the early going. Ambrose found the back of the net for her first of back-to-back goals at 19:04 and finished off the assist from Ashley Rinere at 15:59. USC quickly retaliated after each Columbia point to knot the game at 3-3 midway through the first half.
At the 6:16 mark, Sarah Greenberg gave Columbia a 4-3 lead capitalizing off the free-position. The Lions defense held strong in the final minutes of the first half behind two big saves from Colleen Packer on Trojan free-position attempts to sustain a 4-3 edge at the break.
USC answered first to start the second half just three minutes in to tie the game at 4-4. In 20 seconds, the Lions responded with a score by Maggie Sinzer who was assisted by Taylor Quinn. With two straight goals by the Trojans, Columbia found itself trailing for the first time at 15:26, 6-5. The Lions knotted the game at 6-6 at 14:44 as Quinn put in her first score of the game. At 12:34, Sinzer tallied her second goal of the game to regain the Columbia lead, 7-6.
The game continued to be a strong test for Lions as the Trojans retaliated with three unanswered goals to take the lead 5:22, 9-7. Senior captain Ashley Rinere ended the drought a 3:41 with a clutch score to pull the Lions within one goal.
Although USC took the draw control on the next play, the Columbia defense remained solid and forced a Trojan turnover with just under two minutes play for another chance at the back of the net. Cuscovitch fired one last shot for the Lions with just under a minute to play, but the Trojans Liz Shaeffer made the save to hand the Lions 9-8 loss.
Despite the defeat, the Columbia defense was impressive throughout the afternoon. The Lions held the Trojans to its lowest offensive score this season and Colleen Packer tallied a season-high six saves.
Up next, the Lions will look to bounce back for their second west coast matchup at Fresno State on Wednesday, March 19 at 5 p.m.
Fans can follow the action via live stream provided by the Mountain West Network at Fresno State.