This weekend, the Stanford women’s lacrosse team heads to South Bend, Indiana, to play Notre Dame in a non-conference matchup for its first game of the season.
The team opens its season coming off a successful 15-3 campaign last year, which ended in the first round of the NCAA tournament with a five-point loss to No. 10 Florida — marking the sixth time in school history that the program made it to the tournament. Stanford has also won nine MPSF conference titles in the past 11 years, including the 2015 one with a victory over USC. The Cardinal remained in the top 20 the entire season and ended as the top team in the nation in goals and draw controls.
Last year, Stanford, then ranked 19th in the nation, upset then-No. 12 Notre Dame, 12-10, in the Cardinal’s second game of the season. Once again, Stanford enters Saturday’s matchup as the underdog with a No. 16 ranking behind 11th-ranked Notre Dame, according to the IWLCA’s preseason poll.
“It has been a rivalry between us and Notre Dame for the past couple of years so this game is built to be a really competitive challenge,” said head coach Amy Bokker. “It is great to play a top opponent right out of the gate. It will be a great test of where we are as a team.”
The team will look to its strong midfield players — senior Lucy Dikeou, the team’s top scorer from last year, and sophomore Kelly Meyers, one of the team’s draw control leaders — to set the pace of the game. Stanford will also have an experienced defense, anchored by senior Adrienne Anderson and sophomore goalie Allie DeCarr, which will look to pressure Notre Dame’s potent offense.
This year, the team welcomed seven freshmen to the roster, adding potential to an already experienced roster.
“I think it is a really good mix of veteran players and a strong freshman group,” Bokker said. “It will be exciting to see who steps up. We play competitively against each other all of the time in practice, but the games are so much different.”
The team hosts multiple players from the East Coast and the Midwest, so acclimating to the often harsh winter weather of South Bend and adjusting to the travel may not add too much adversity. The team traveled to the East Coast for fall-ball games as well, so the players have experienced a travel day similar to what they will face this weekend.
This year the team is inspired to build off its successes from the past two years in particular. A win against a top team like Notre Dame would make a statement early in the season for the Cardinal that they are a force to be reckoned with in the MPSF and in the nation.
“We want to put ourselves up against the top teams in the country,” Bokker said. “More teams are challenging themselves against the top 20 teams and we want to continue to do that. It is tough to do that on the road but we are up for the test and have planned accordingly.”
The game will take place this Saturday, Feb. 13, at 9 a.m., and live stats will be available online at GoStanford.com.
Contact Sydney Shaw at sshaw17 ‘at’ stanford.edu.