In the final game of its 2014 regular season, the Stanford women’s lacrosse team will battle archrival California (5-10, 3-5 MPSF), aiming to rebound from a very tough 11-10 loss to USC on Sunday. Despite the setback, the squad is still in contention for the second seed in the upcoming MPSF playoffs. On the heels of disappointment, it will be crucial that the Cardinal (12-3, 6-2) show resilience and perseverance — two traits that will serve them well if they hope to make a deep postseason run.
“We have to face every game from now on as if it’s the championship game, and we’re prepared to do so,” said senior Anna Kim. “Just like other teams across the nation, anyone can win on any given day — sometimes it matters who wants it more.”
As a midfielder, Kim understands the importance of transitions of momentum; if Stanford ever needed a shift in its direction, the time is now.
In a classic rivalry game, there is sure to be no shortage of emotion in Thursday’s match. However, it is important that Stanford stays grounded in the fundamentals and honed in on its keys to success.
“They haven’t had the strongest season this year, but one of our main strategies is not underestimating them,” said junior Lucy Dikeou.
Dikeou has been an offensive powerhouse this season, with 26 goals to her name. She and the rest of the Cardinal offense will need to be focused and driven to keep pace with a good Cal team. This matchup will be the first of the season for the cross-bay rivals, and a win would be critical for Stanford’s momentum going into the playoffs. Despite her individual prowess, Dikeou realizes that only a true team effort will result in a victory for the Card.
“A balance of individually holding ourselves to a higher standard while also relying on our teammates to mesh well together [is the key],” Dikeou said.
Not only will emotions be running high due to the rivalry, but today is also Senior Night for Amy Bokker’s squad. Thus, aside from seeking momentum heading into the postseason, Stanford will also look to send its five seniors out with a win in their final home match.
“There are not as many opportunities to play lacrosse as there are for other NCAA sports post-college,” Kim said. “As a senior, I have to leave everything on the field.” Though it is extra special to end the regular season against Cal, the team is focused on using this game to get back in the zone and prepare for the postseason.
The old mantra “defense wins championships” is not lost on this Stanford team, whose defensive front is anchored by senior Megan Lerner.
“I’m really excited to play against Cal,” Lerner said. “I’m pumped to get a win and go into the postseason on a positive note. The biggest key is being able to come out strong at the first whistle and be able to keep that energy going for the entire game.”
And while the seniors’ singular focus is winning their final home game, they were also able to take a step back and reflect on their years as Stanford lacrosse players.
“Being able to turn the program into a national powerhouse and having two consecutive seasons where we’re ranked in the top 10,” Lerner said of the biggest surprise of her collegiate career. “I credit my coaches for helping us prove that Stanford lacrosse is just as good as East Coast lacrosse.”
Kim was quick to credit her teammates, and left them with a piece of advice for the future.
“Keep getting better each day, because the country has yet to see the full potential of Stanford lacrosse,” she said.
It will certainly be exciting to see what the future — both immediate and long-term —holds, especially with the MPSF Tournament looming. But Stanford must tackle the task at hand one match at a time, starting with the Bears this Thursday at 4 p.m.
Contact Carlie Tenenbaum at carliet ‘at’ stanford.edu.