After a perfect conference season, the No. 16 MPSF champion Stanford women’s lacrosse team (15-2) has reached the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in six years. The program is a young and the team is looking to challenge itself against the best competition in the country.
“The team feels like they have something to prove as a new, West Coast team,” said senior Hannah Farr.
Athleticism and the will to win are what make this Cardinal team stand out in a line up of East Coast powerhouses. The top four seeds are defending national champion Maryland, North Carolina, Duke and Syracuse. USC and Stanford are the only West Coast teams in the tournament and both are out to prove that the West Coast can compete and succeed against the traditional top teams.
The Cardinal are set to take on the No. 10 Big East conference champion Florida (14-5) in the first round in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Friday at 2 p.m. The winner will go on to play No. 2 North Carolina (15-3), the Atlantic Coast regular-season champion, on Sunday. With a victory Friday, Stanford would advance past the first round for the second time in program history.
Friday’s matchup will showcase the nation’s highest-scoring teams, with Stanford leading at 16.35 and Florida close behind them at 16.05. The Cardinal have a fast paced, ultra-athletic and diverse attack. They have numerous players with the ability to put the ball in the net. Eleven players have scored 10 or more goals this season, and of those 11, seven have scored over 20 goals. This sheer diversity alone makes Stanford an extremely hard team to scout. Even when the star players are off the field, no one can be underestimated and every attacker truly is a threat. Stanford has scored 278 goals in 17 games.
Florida has nine players scoring 10 or more goals this season. The main contributor for the Gators is senior midfielder Shannon Gilroy. She has 89 points this season ranking her second in the NCAA, and her 67 goals rank third. Not only is Gilroy the NCAA’s active career leader in points (311) and goals (249), she also ranks 11th all-time in career goals and needs just one more goal to become the 12th woman in NCAA Division I history to score 250 career goals. She has already been named Big East Midfielder of the Year, All-Big East First-Team, Big East All-Tournament Team and the Big East Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
The Stanford defense will absolutely have its eye on Gilroy, as she proves to be the biggest offensive threat they have faced this year. The Cardinal have great man-to-man defense and have been constantly improving on their defensive slides. Stanford will need to bring its best game on both sides of the ball to beat Florida. Experienced defenders like junior Adrienne Anderson, senior Rachel Kallick, senior Meredith Kalinowski and junior Meg Lentz will be expected to organize and lead the team, especially with an inexperienced freshman goalie in Allie DaCar.
On the attacking end, the Cardinal will look to their senior leadership in fifth-year senior attacker Rachel Ozer, senior midfielder Hannah Farr, junior midfielder Lucy Dikeou and junior attacker Alexandra Crerend. These are the top contributors for the Cardinal offense and will play a key role in finding Florida’s weaknesses and taking advantage of their numbers. Dikeou leads the team with 43 goals and 63 draw controls this season.
Along her with a similar style of play is Hannah Farr. Farr has 34 goals, 38 draw controls and leads the team with 18 assists. Both Dikeou and Farr play midfield and are extremely fit and athletic players. They are able to play both sides of the ball and help on fast transitions to goal.
Dikeou and Farr will be heavily scouted and marked tightly, but that won’t stop the attack. Ozer has 25 goals and 17 assists this season. She has the most experience of anyone on the team and will lead the Cardinal on attack this weekend.
With her will be Crerend, who has 31 goals and 31 draw controls this season. She has played a huge role in the Cardinal attack and has recently scored some spectacular goals in the MPSF Tournament. Lastly is freshman midfielder Kelly Myers, who has 28 goals and 52 draw controls this season. Myers clearly knows how to put the ball in the net, but some of her greatest plays have been on the draw.
The Cardinal will take the field at 2 p.m. on Friday to take on the Florida Gators, striving to win and earn the right to play against UNC in the second round on Sunday. The team looks to prove itself and make history for the Stanford women’s lacrosse program in the NCAA Tournament.
Contact Kristina Bassi at kbassi ‘at’ stanford.edu.