By Jeremy Rubin
Junior attack Ali Baiocco tied her career high with six goals, but her efforts were not enough for the No. 24 Cardinal (2-3, 0-0 Pac-12), as Stanford dropped a high-scoring match to No. 6 Northwestern (4-2, 0-0 Big-10), 25-18 on Sunday in Evanston.
Following two quick Northwestern goals to kick off the scoring, Baiocco answered back with two of her own to tie the game at the 23:44 mark of the first half. This sparked a 7-0 scoring run for Stanford, as the team jumped out to a 7-2 lead. Fellow junior attack Katherine Gjertsen contributed two goals during this stretch of play; she finished with four in total in the contest.
Stanford remained ahead 10-6 with just over five minutes left to play in the first half following a goal from senior midfielder Jacie Lemos, and all appeared to be clicking for the Cardinal. However, a late scoring spree from the Wildcats, including two by Lauren Gilbert, tied the match at 10 apiece after half an hour of play.
The second half proved to be all Northwestern, as Stanford was unable to find a way to slow down the Wildcats’ offense. Baiocco and freshman attack Jay Browne scored the first two of the period to put the Cardinal up 12-10, but Northwestern followed that up with a 14-2 scoring run and a commanding 10-goal lead with 3:33 left in the game.
On a day when defense was hard to find on either side, Stanford’s offensive improvement continued to shine through. The team has scored 18 goals in each of its past two games, both of which represent the season high thus far. Seven different Cardinal players found the back of the net.
This game continued an trend of difficult pre-conference play. Head Coach Danielle Spencer’s squad began its season against No. 10 Denver, followed by No. 8 Virginia. Sunday’s match marked the third top-10 team the Cardinal have faced off against in just five games. Stanford’s two wins have come against the two non-ranked opponents played.
The Cardinal outshot the Wildcats 39-36, but Northwestern had eight saves to Stanford’s five.
The Pac-12 season will officially kick off against No. 11 USC on Friday at 3 p.m. PT in Los Angeles.