The No. 15 Stanford lacrosse team (13-2, 9-0 MPSF) looks stronger than ever, and with a perfect conference record and No. 1 seed in tow, it enters the MPSF tournament this weekend as the team to beat.
Stanford will begin tournament play on Friday, May 1, earning a first-round bye and cruising into the semifinals, where it will face the winner of No. 4 seed Colorado (10-6, 5-4 MPSF) and No. 5 seed SDSU (9-7, 5-4 MSPF).
Colorado will likely be the more difficult of the two possible opponents. Stanford recorded a close win last time the team played Buffaloes, with a 16-14 final score. Sophomore midfielder Alex Poplawski had a breakout game, scoring five goals, while junior attacker Alexandra Crerend, freshman midfielder Kelly Myers and senior midfielder Hannah Farr also contributed three goals apiece. The score stayed tied or within one or two points for most of the game, but Farr’s goal with 9:52 left on the clock, as well as the team’s ensuing shutdown defense, ensured the Cardinal’s win.
The squad’s game against SDSU was more of a blowout: Stanford dominated with a convincing score of 22-10. Fifth-year senior attacker Rachel Ozer led the team with five goals, junior midfielder Lucy Dikeou had four goals and Crerend and Myers had three apiece.
Since those two games, the Cardinal have been rolling: The team handily beat then-No. 1 in the conference USC before later, in their record-setting last game of the regular season, destroying the California Golden Bears in a 25-9 victory. Stanford set a school record for goals in a game, seven of which were from Dikeou, tying a Stanford single-game record. Stanford’s attack had a field day with senior attacker Kyle Fraser tallying five goals, Crerend tallying four and Farr tallying three. Nine Stanford players scored, earning great momentum as it enters the conference playoffs.
A key player for the Cardinal in the MPSF tournament will be Dikeou, who is the leading scorer with 39 goals, 11 assists and 57 draw controls. She has led the Stanford attack, which leads the nation with 16.40 goals per game and in draw controls, with 16.60 per game.
Yet the offense is driven by more than just Dikeou. Farr, Ozer, Crerend and Fraser all earned over 20 goals this season.
“Our offense is absolutely one of our greatest strengths,” Dikeou said. “We’re so versatile and can score whenever we want.”
“People have a better sense of where their teammates are going to be and are working together really well on plays and are looking to create opportunities for each other, and that’s what’s made us so successful,” Crerend added.
Defensively, the Cardinal have impressively given up an average of 9.6 goals per game thanks to the efforts from defenders senior Rachel Kalick, junior Adrienne Anderson, who has earned 23 ground balls and 11 draw controls, senior Meredith Kalinowski and junior Meg Lentz. Freshman goalie Allie DaCar leads the team with 25 ground balls this season and has 66 saves.
Going forward, the Cardinal will look to keep up their perfect-season momentum and make gameday adjustments to get the best of their opponents.
“Moving forward, the team is focusing on putting together a complete game, playing well on both sides of the ball, and getting experience playing high level teams, [as well as] getting a winning mentality that a lot of these established programs have,” Dikeou said.
The Cardinal will start their campaign for MPSF Tournament champion this Friday at 3 p.m. in Denver. They look to win out and get an automatic bid into what would be their sixth NCAA appearance.
Contact Kristina Bassi at kbassi ‘at’ stanford.edu.