Stanford lacrosse (11-1, 7-0 Pac-12) fell to Denver (16-1, 10-0 Big East) in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Pioneers have won all five meetings between the two teams since 2017 and handed the Cardinal their first loss of the season on Friday in Evanston, Ill.
Senior attacker Ali Baiocco, the team’s leading scorer, was remarkably quiet in the contest, scoring only two goals. Her first —a free-position shot — came with only nine minutes remaining in the second half to tie the match, 12-12.
Baiocco’s first goal of the match was important, but the back-to-back goals from Pioneers attacker Eliza Radochonski proved to be more pivotal. The Denver senior’s fourth and fifth goals of the contest gave the Pioneers the decisive 14-12 lead it needed to close out the game.
Baiocco scored her 50th goal of the season and second of the match five minutes later with another free-position shot, but crossing the half-century mark came too little too late.
The plurality of the work on offense was done by senior attacker Katherine Gjertsen and fifth-year midfielder Mikaela Watson. Gjertsen scored four goals while Watson landed three assists — one in the first half to Gjertsen to tie the game at four — and a goal of her own.
In front of the net, sophomore goalkeeper Kara Rahaim notched seven saves, two more than her Denver counterpart Amelia Cole, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the 23-18 gap in shots on goal. Turnovers also limited the Cardinal’s efficiency on offense. The team lost track of 17 balls, including four after Radochonski’s goals, which dashed any hopes for a Stanford comeback.
The Pioneers move on to face undefeated No. 2 Northwestern (13-0, 11-0 B1G) on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Stanford’s loss caps off an otherwise successful season for first-year head coach Danielle Spencer, who led the team to its first uncontested conference championship.