Early Friday morning, No. 16 Stanford women’s lacrosse (1-3, 0-0 Pac 12) faced the University of Richmond (4-0, 0-0 Atlantic 10) for the first time in program history. After a tight fourth quarter in Richmond’s Robins Stadium, the Cardinal fell to the Spiders 11-10.
From the start of the game, the Cardinal felt Richmond’s defensive pressure, which kept them outside the eight-meter line. Stanford also only controlled one of the first seven draws, limiting its opportunities to score and increasing Richmond’s chances.
Still, in the Cardinal’s few opportunities, experienced players showcased their precision and creativity. To put Stanford on the board, senior midfielder Caitlin Chicoski made an expert backside shot. Sophomore midfielder Ailish Kelly followed Chicoski to give the Cardinal a 2-1 lead, similarly favoring placement over power for a goal in the corner of the net.
In the last four minutes of the first quarter, the Spiders came roaring back, scoring two unanswered goals. To begin the second quarter, Richmond’s midfielders Leah Kenny and Lindsey Frank quickly added two more goals.
The rest of the quarter continued in a similar manner until freshman midfielder Annabel Frist stepped up. With 2.7 seconds left in the half, Frist cut the Stanford deficit to one goal and delivered a statement: the Cardinal were not done yet.
During halftime, head coach Danielle Spencer said that the team “didn’t really focus on Xs and Os, but their energy.” Stanford retook to the field re-energized and with a point to prove.
In the first 50 seconds of the second half, redshirt freshman attack Sarah Jaques scored off a pass from redshirt freshman attack Ashley Humphrey. Relying on their passing to draw defenders away and open lanes, Chicoski and Jaques scored another two goals in the third quarter.
As the Cardinal surged offensively, they also adjusted their defense to slow down Richmond, focusing on reading drives and double teaming the attacker. Though it could have been a risk to leave players open, the Cardinal’s instincts paid off and kept the Spiders at bay. Stanford would even the score at eight early in the fourth quarter.
With the two teams neck and neck, emotions were high in the fourth quarter, leading to turnovers and errant passes. In the midst of the chaos, the Spiders were able to jump out to another lead.
Down 8-11 with less than two minutes remaining, the Cardinal were left with the choice to fight or fold. Stepping up, Kelly scored directly off a draw and pass from fifth-year attacker Ali Baiocco. Now within two goals, the Cardinal controlled another draw and called a timeout to devise an offensive strategy.
Immediately after the timeout, sophomore midfielder Katy Gilbert scored a goal assisted by Baiocco, bringing Stanford within a single goal.
Unfortunately for the Cardinal, the Spiders controlled the next draw and drained the shot clock for an anti-climactic win. Though Stanford tied the game multiple times, Richmond controlled most of the match, making Stanford’s final run a show of grit but, in the end, not enough.
“It stings,” Spencer said. “But the great thing about two-game weekends is that they don’t have to sit with it for too long.”
The Cardinal will stay in Virginia for the weekend, preparing to play No. 13 University of Virginia (2-3, 0-1 ACC) on Sunday at 8 a.m. PT.