Lacrosse edged by No. 5 USC in West Coast battle

April 26, 2016, 1:28 a.m.

This Saturday wasn’t any ordinary Saturday. 

Stanford and USC, two emerging programs in women’s lacrosse, took the field in arguably the biggest West Coast collegiate game to grace the lacrosse field. 

Senior attacker Anna Salemo (27)
Senior attacker Anna Salemo (right) continued her strong offensive play, recording a team-leading four goals in the Cardinal’s dominant 16-10 win over the Aztecs. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Fifth-ranked USC came in as one of two remaining undefeated teams in the nation, while No. 9 Stanford, at the time in possession of a perfect conference record, had occupied a spot in the top-10 rankings for much of the season. But something had to give, and on Saturday that something was Stanford.

After a heartbreaking 10-9 loss to USC in which the Cardinal nearly overcame a seven-point deficit, Stanford women’s lacrosse ended its season on a positive note with a 16-10 win against San Diego State.

The Cardinal (13-3, 7-1 MPSF) were the first to score against the Trojans, off a goal from Elizabeth Cusick with less than two minutes off the clock. USC’s Michaela Michael — third in the nation in goals over the season — completed a hat trick in the first 12 minutes of play as part a four-goal run from USC after Cusick’s opener.

While Alex Poplawski and Cusick tightened the score, bringing Stanford within one a little less than midway through the first half, the Trojans responded with six unanswered goals extending into the second half, putting USC far ahead at 10-3.

Stanford’s ensuing rally — which featured five different scorers and shutdown defense that caused 9 Trojan turnovers — brought the Cardinal within a goal with just over three minutes to play. Though Stanford had possession during the final minute, a costly turnover effectively sealed the win for USC (17-0, 9-0)

The Cardinal, which usually dominate draw controls, struggled to gain possession of the ball at midfield, losing the draw control battle 14-7 and 7-2 in the second half alone. The Cardinal’s difficulty with draws kept the ball in the Trojans’ sticks for longer, a dangerous situation with an offense as potent as USC’s, and allowed them to score frequently, particularly in the first half.

Stanford was back to its usual form two days later, as it brought down the Aztecs (4-11, 3-6) by six goals. While SDSU took an early 2-1 lead, Stanford went on a 9-2 run, fueled by goals from seven different players to close the half, in which the Cardinal also outshot SDSU 24-9. Though the Cardinal weren’t as dominant in the second half — matching the Aztecs with 6 goals in the period — their strong first half would be enough to give Stanford a win to close out the regular season.

Anna Salemo’s 4 goals led the way for the team, while Kelly Myers and Mackenzie Tesei each contributed a hat trick.  

The Cardinal will return to the field — and possibility face the Trojans in a rematch — this weekend when they host the MPSF Tournament. Stanford, which received a No. 2 seed, will receive an automatic bye into the semifinal round, where it will play the winner of Friday’s match between Colorado and Oregon. The semifinal will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 29. All games will be held at Cagan Stadium.

Contact Alexa Philippou at aphil723 ‘at’

Alexa Philippou '18 is a political science major and a former Managing Editor of The Daily's sports section. She switched from the sports section to news her junior year, where she has worked on the university/local beat since. Being from Baltimore, she is a die-hard Ravens and Orioles fan who cried when the Ravens won the Super Bowl. To contact Alexa, please email her at aphil723 'at'

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