By Andrew Tan
No. 23 Stanford women’s lacrosse (13-5, 7-3 Pac-12) opens its ninth NCAA Tournament on Friday against No. 7 Notre Dame (13-4, 5-2 ACC) in Evanston, Illinois after falling out of the Pac-12 Tournament in the quarterfinals yet still qualifying for the national playoffs.
Stanford joins Pac-12 champion No. 18 USC and runner-up No. 20 Colorado as the third team from the conference to qualify for the event, the most the Pac-12 has sent to the national level since its inception just two years ago. USC qualified automatically by winning the conference tournament, while Colorado and Stanford earned bids at-large.
The Cardinal hold a 7-10 all-time record against Notre Dame and lost their last matchup with the Irish 13-9 in the 2016 season opener. Over the past decade, however, the series has been relatively even, with each team taking four of the eight games played during the span.
Friday’s showdown will be the second NCAA Tournament meeting between the two squads, the first occurring six years to the date at the same location. In that game, Stanford took home its first ever NCAA win as the 2013 Cardinal bested Notre Dame 8-7.
This season, Notre Dame matched a regular season win total of 13 in a standout season that saw the school ranking fourth out of eight teams in the stacked Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) which will send five schools to the tournament over the weekend. Notre Dame is the lowest seeded school of the five because it dropped out of the ACC Tournament in the quarterfinals; all four other programs — Boston College, North Carolina, Syracuse and Virginia — have first round byes.
Considering the Irish’s play this year, Stanford will need a near-perfect performance to upset its first-round opponent and reach No. 4 Northwestern in the second round. The Cardinal’s past play in tournament competition is not encouraging either; Stanford is 2-8 all-time in NCAA Tournament play. Still, one of those wins came against Notre Dame, so Stanford cannot be completely written off.
First draw control is at 5 p.m. PST in Martin Stadium at Northwestern.