After 14 seasons in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, Stanford lacrosse (11-5, 6-2 MPSF) will enter its last MPSF Championship tournament on Thursday and look to claim its 10th trophy when it starts its slate of weekend action against Bay Area rival and No. 6 seed Cal (5-12, 2-6) in Los Angeles.
The No. 3 seed Cardinal square off against Berkeley for the second time this season, with the first match having marked Stanford head coach Amy Bokker’s 100th victory while at the helm of the program. In addition, while under the guidance of Bokker, the Cardinal are a perfect 13-0 against the Bears.
The Golden Bears fell victim to Stanford’s offensive weapon, senior Kelsey Murray, during their last matchup as the team leader in goals and points netted five in just the first half against the Cal defense.
Murray established her name in the program’s history books by breaking the Cardinal’s all-time record for career points and streak of games with at least one point by exceeding the previous record of 214 points previously held by Stanford legend Megan Burker and notching at least one point in 53 straight matches. Murray also moved to fourth in the all-time career goals list for the Farm at 136.
The key to stopping Cal stems from finding an answer for senior Jena Fritts, as the attacker scored 44 goals on the season as the clear offensive generator for the Golden Bears.
Beyond the quarterfinals, if the Cardinal are victorious on Thursday, Stanford will face a tough test when taking on second-seeded and No. 8 Colorado (15-2, 7-1) in the semifinals. As the two top seeds, No. 6 USC and the Buffs earned crucial first-round byes and will be fully rested for the semifinal on Friday.
Should the Cardinal move on to the semifinal, Stanford will look to reverse recent fortunes and repeat last season’s tournament success. The Cardinal handily lost while on the road in Boulder earlier this season, holding the lead at the start before toppling at the hands of a stingy Buffs defense.
On the other hand, Stanford has history on its side, as the Cardinal downed Colorado in the semifinal in the very same tournament last season.
The key to success in the tournament for Stanford is how well the defense can keep the ball out of the net. Offensively, Stanford ranks 14th in the nation with a 14.81 goals per game average, yet on the other side, will struggle to replace the absence of All-American defenders Adrienne Anderson and Meg Lentz, who graduated last season.
The Cardinal will look to repeat a long-standing history for the program, as Stanford has played in 19 straight championship games while in three different conferences. This year’s team hopes to continue the dynasty in its final MPSF season and clinch its 11th and final championship trophy before entering the newly formed Pac-12 league next season.
The tournament will start against the Golden Bears on Thursday at noon at the campus of host Southern California, and the championship game to bookend the tournament will take place on Sunday.
Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’ stanford.edu.