A promising season came to an end last Friday for No. 19 Stanford lacrosse (14-5) as the Card fell to No. 9 Duke (10-9) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament 13-8, knocking them out of the tournament. Stanford had received an at-large bid to the tournament after losing 14-11 in the MPSF Tournament final against Denver but was unable to advance past the opening round.
Duke led the whole way after the Blue Devils scored three goals in the first minute of the game to take a 3-0 lead. The Blue Devils’ high-powered offense scored goals in bunches throughout the game, as they would later score two goals in a span of 12 seconds and also closed out the game with three goals in 40 seconds.
“I did think we could recover,” said head coach Amy Bokker to GoStanford.com. “We’ve had deficits early in games before. But a lot of credit to Duke, they did a good job of going hard to the net and taking advantage of what we gave them. We dug ourselves a hole and it was really hard to recover.”
Despite opening on a sour note, Stanford fought back to cut the lead to only 4-3 with 6:14 remaining in the first half. Recognizing that she might be playing her last game in a Cardinal uniform, senior Rachel Ozer triggered a rally by scoring the team’s first goal and her team-leading 33rd goal of the season with 17:26 remaining after nearly 12 minutes of scoreless play.
The positive momentum was somewhat dampened when Duke scored two more goals with under a minute remaining in the first half to stretch the lead back to 6-3. However, with only 21 seconds remaining in the half, junior Meredith Kalinowski notched her second goal of the season on a free position shot to send the match to halftime with Stanford trailing 6-4. Kalinowski would finish her season with two goals and six assists in 18 games.
Even though they found themselves behind at the half, the Cardinal hoped to draw on the confidence they gained from three second-half rallies earlier this season. Against Ohio State to open the season, the Stanford trailed the Buckeyes 7-5 before the Cardinal outscored them 6-2 in the second half to win 11-9. In March, the Card trailed 7-3 at halftime against Georgetown before flipping the script in the second half en route to an overtime victory. Three games later, Stanford engineered yet another comeback against Notre Dame, winning 11-10 after falling behind 8-5 at the half.
This time, though, the Card couldn’t pull off the comeback victory as Duke led by at least two goals throughout the entire second half. Ozer scored her second goal of the game and 34th of the season with 24:37 left in the game to pull Stanford to within two at 7-5. After the Blue Devils scored two straight to increase the lead back to four, sophomore Alexandra Crerend scored twice to put Stanford again within two. Crerend would lead the Cardinal with three goals and five draw controls in the game, both career highs for the sophomore.
The Blue Devils then proceeded to close out the game, limiting the Card to only one goal in the final 14 minutes — a goal from freshman Kelsey Murray, her 26th of the season — with stout defense while scoring four themselves. Two empty-net goals officially closed the game to deliver a 13-8 victory for Duke.
“Their defense played really well, but I thought we needed to do a better job of driving hard to the net and getting our shoulders in and creating opportunities for ourselves,” Bokker said. “We have some really great dodgers on our team. We just need to play fierce.”
The loss was the final game for seniors Ozer, Anna Kim, Megan Lerner, Lyndsey Munoz and Nina Swanson. Ozer had a career year as a senior, leading the team with 34 goals and 47 points. Kim, Lerner, Munoz and Swanson all played in 18 games this season, and Kim also finished the season with 15 goals and five assists. This year’s senior class matched last year’s with three NCAA Tournament appearances in four years, the best mark in program history.
The 14-5 season for Stanford was its best year since 2011, when the Card went 16-3 and finished the regular season ranked No. 7 in the nation before falling in the first round of the NCAA Tournament 13-11 to Florida in Gainesville.
Stanford lacrosse will look to build on a successful season when next season begins in February of 2015.
Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.