W. Lacrosse: Back in NCAAs

May 13, 2010, 12:44 a.m.

Women’s lacrosse to compete in NCAA Tournament for second time in school history and first since 2006

Redemption was sweet for the Stanford women’s lacrosse team as it advanced to the NCAA Tournament with a win over the University of Massachusetts at home in the NCAA play-in game just one year after being snubbed by the selection committee.

W. Lacrosse: Back in NCAAs
Redshirt junior Lauren Schmidt, the two-time MPSF Player of the Year, led the Stanford women’s lacrosse team with three goals and an assist in the Cardinal’s 15-12 victory over Massachusetts in the NCAA play-in game. With the win, Stanford advanced to the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in school history. The Cardinal’s first test will be against No. 5 seed James Madison. (MASARU OKA/Staff Photographer)

Last year, after a win against No. 3 Penn in its regular season finale, the team had its hopes dashed by being left out of the tournament, but this year the Cardinal was able to play its way into the tournament.

A rule change that gave the MPSF Tournament champion a berth to the NCAA play-in game allowed Stanford to control its own fate and now, after a 15-12 win over UMass on Saturday at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium, the Cardinal has made it to the NCAA Tournament. In the first round, it will face No. 5 seed James Madison, champions of the Colonial Athletic Association and one of the top teams in the nation.

The Cardinal looked liked it belonged in just its second NCAA Tournament appearance all-time, the first coming in 2006 when Stanford lost to Northwestern in the first round. With an NCAA Tournament berth on the line, both teams came out swinging, and UMass was able to jump out to an early 4-2 lead in the first NCAA women’s lacrosse playoff game ever played in California.

However, Stanford wasn’t going to let its chance at the NCAA Tournament slip away so easily. The Cardinal came roaring back to take an 11-8 lead into halftime and never relinquished it. In the second half, the teams traded goals, with each scoring four, resulting in a final score of 15-12 in favor of the Cardinal.

UMass’s Merritt Cosgrove had a hat trick in the first half for the Minutewomen, which contributed to their early lead. However, she received two yellow cards, forcing her to leave the game early.

Junior Sarah Flynn led Stanford in the match, scoring five goals on only seven shots for an impressive shooting percentage of 71 percent. Fellow junior and MPSF Player of the Year Lauren Schmidt also had an impressive outing, scoring three goals and an assist in the winning effort. In goal, Annie Read played well for the Card, turning in a six-save performance that supported the impressive offensive effort by Stanford.

With the win, the Cardinal advanced to the NCAA Tournament and merely had to wait until the next day to find out who its opponent would be. That opponent turned out to be No. 7 James Madison, who earned the fifth seed in the tournament and drew the unseeded Cardinal in the first round.

The Cardinal has faced the Dukes on two previous occasions recently, in 2007 and 2008, with James Madison taking both of the hard-fought contests by one goal. In the midst of a great year for the program, James Madison only has two losses all season, road games to No. 13 Loyola and No. 1 Maryland. Stanford will have to overcome even more history, as James Madison is 5-0 in NCAA first-round games at home.

Leading the Dukes on offense are Kim Griffin, who leads the team with 60 points, and Mary Kate Lomady, who has a team-high 44 goals on the season. Monica Zabel has 31 assists on the year for James Madison, while goalie Kelly Morgan has a 6.78 goals-against average and has recorded 115 saves this year.

The match begins at 10 a.m. PST on Saturday at James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va. The winner of the game faces the winner of the match between Georgetown and Syracuse in the NCAA quarterfinals.

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