By Andrew Tan
In its first games of conference play this season, No. 15 Stanford women’s lacrosse (5-2, 1-1 Pac-12) split a two-game home set over the weekend, bouncing back from a 19-11 blowout loss to No. 23 Colorado (3-3, 2-0 Pac-12) with a convincing 15-8 victory over Oregon (2-5, 0-2 Pac-12). Sophomore Katherine Gjertsen was the Cardinal’s leading scorer on the weekend, tallying eight goals and nine points.
The Thursday game against the Buffs began in a promising fashion before Stanford steadily collapsed during the remainder of the first half. Sophomore Galen Lew and senior captain Daniella McMahon opened the match with two quick scores, and the Cardinal’s odds to extend their current win streak to five games appeared quite favorable.
Colorado then proceeded to stampede Stanford for four of the next five goals to take the lead before senior Areta Buness pulled Stanford even with about 15 minutes to go in the first half. From this point onward, the Buffs ran roughshod all over a listless Cardinal team. Stanford was out-hustled, outflanked and generally outplayed and Colorado refused to relent, scoring nine unanswered goals to take a 13-4 lead and eventual 14-5 advantage into half.
Stanford had fallen apart at the seams, and not even the most miraculous of second half efforts could help the team recover from a miserable first half showing.
The Cardinal would end the second half with a two-goal advantage over Colorado in that period, but these goals only served to soften the heavy blow that the Buffs had exacted on Stanford’s home field.
The dark rainy weather during Sunday’s game against Oregon resembled the mood of a Stanford team coming off a disappointing performance two days before. Precipitation, in the form of heavy rain and a brief episode of hail, added a secondary component to an otherwise standard showdown between conference rivals in which the home team, Stanford, owns its northern opponents. As such, the game was move to Johnson Turf instead of the usual venue of Maloney Field.
Gjertsen was again the top scorer for Stanford, while sophomore goalkeeper Trudie Grattan pitched in 11 saves to limit the Ducks’ scoring.
Frustration at a poor showing Thursday evening appeared to manifest itself in the form of an early beatdown against Oregon soon after opening draw control. Within eight minutes, the Cardinal led 8-0 and the Ducks, unlike their mascot, were ill-equipped to battle the rain. However, in the remainder of the half, Stanford became complacent and allowed Oregon to crawl back into the game via four consecutive goals to end the half.
The closest Oregon came to reengaging the Cardinal was four minutes into the second half, wherein the team scored its fifth straight goal and a Stanford choke seemed like a distinct possibility. Stanford effectively squashed the Ducks’ attempt to make the game competitive with another run similar to its early first-half tear to stretch the lead to seven goals, upon which it would never look back. In doing so, Stanford picked up an important win to pull to .500 in conference play and avoid embarrassment in early Pac-12 competition.
After the weekend slate, Stanford falls behind both Colorado and USC in the Pac-12 standings due to inferior conference record. The Cardinal will need to put the result against Colorado quickly behind, as the next five games for Stanford are against Pac-12 competition.
Stanford resumes play at 5 p.m. on Saturday in Berkeley to take on UC Berkeley.