No. 17 Stanford women’s lacrosse (4-2, 1-0 MPSF) was tested early against a struggling Michigan squad (0-4, 0-3) tonight, yet the Cardinal talent utilized a strong second half turnaround in order to distance itself and ultimately prevail over the Wolverines. Stanford ended on top by a final tally of 14-9, earning its first victory at home this season.
Stanford started the match out in stride, quickly jumping to a 2-0 lead over the visitors within six minutes of play. Team leaders led the charge; junior Kelly Myers stepped up for her ninth goal of the year, and then senior Kelsay Murray followed for her team-leading 14th goal of the season. However, the Cardinal successes wouldn’t last long; the win-less Michigan squad came to play, answering Stanford’s early lead to trade goals with the Cardinal throughout the first half.
The Wolverines even claimed a first-half lead at one point, thanks to a goal from senior attacker Allie Breitfeller off a wicked assist from senior Tess Korton — Breitfeller’s third goal on the season. The Cardinal women eventually rallied to reclaim control of the game and owned an unnerving but welcomed 7-6 margin going into halftime.
Michigan’s goalkeeper Alli Kothari powered the Wolverine’s outstanding start to the game. The freshman recorded a first half to remember, saving seven Cardinal shots on goal by halftime and providing serious frustration to a potent Stanford offense.
In a halftime interview with Pac-12 Network commentators, Cardinal head coach Amy Bokker knew Stanford faced adversity yet remained confident of her team’s adaptability: “We did a better job of adjusting to that and having a game plan. Michigan is athletic; they played a high pace, and we need to match that and be a little cleaner overall.”
Heading into the second half, the Wolverines continued to cause Stanford problems, jostling for the lead by continuing to pressure the Stanford offense with their impressive pace and diligence in the passing lanes. Yet, after nine minutes of highly competitive action in the second half, the Cardinal retook the lead off Kelly Myer’s 15th goal on the season, the second goal of her hat-trick performance.
Shortly after Murray’s goal, Michigan team-leader senior Kim Coughlan earned her second yellow card on the night, effectively ending her contribution to this match. This took out a serious offensive threat on the night for the Wolverines as the attacker already scored twice on the night.
Stanford took advantage of Coughlan’s mistake and absence, stringing together another two goals to increase the Cardinal lead to three goals. This movement quieted the surging Michigan squad, which had seen a glimmer of hope at halftime. Once the talented Cardinal established their grasp on the night, Stanford was able to keep the Wolverines at bay and casually finish with a victory in Cagan.
The Cardinal offense showed the strength of their attack when three different Stanford players earned a hat trick on the night: senior Elizabeth Cusick, senior Kelsay Murray and senior Anna Salemo. After fighting through early frustrations and a period of Wolverine ball control in the first half, the Stanford offense effectively cemented the game by scoring four goals unanswered after Michigan tied the game early in the second half.
Ultimately, despite valiant efforts from Wolverine players, the lacking Michigan offense simply couldn’t maintain the production shown in the first half. The Wolverine defense allowed a total 30 shots on goal while only netting nine on the night — an indication into the immense hill that Michigan needed to overcome in order to complete the upset.
Stanford will return to action immediately as the women face a struggling William and Mary (1-3) in the second game of its three-game homestand this week. If the Cardinal continue to play at this high rate offensively, Stanford should be poised to continue its momentum following early losses on the season. Tomorrow night’s game will once again be played at Cagan stadium at 7 p.m. PT.
Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’ stanford.edu.