The Stanford women’s lacrosse team embarks on a championship challenge this weekend, as the Card travels to Philadelphia to take on three top-10 teams this Saturday. While the Card will be missing Homecoming, the reason is most definitely a good one, as it will tangle with perennial powerhouses Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Stanford capped off last weekend’s playday by knocking off three Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) foes, but the task gets elevated to a new level this weekend at Franklin Field, home of the Quakers.
The highlight of the weekend will be when the Card takes on Maryland, the defending national champion. Of course, Penn and Virginia are no slouches either, as both made last year’s NCAA Tournament as well.
Maryland took home the national title with a 13-11 victory over Northwestern, which was ranked No. 1 for most of the season.
The Northwestern-Maryland matchup in the title game was especially significant for the Terrapins, who were pining to knock off the Wildcats team that had captured every national championship since 2005, a streak of five in a row. The Wildcats had commandeered the top spot in women’s lacrosse from the Terps, who also had an impressive title streak of their own. From 1995-2001, the Terps reeled off seven straight national championships, the third-longest streak of consecutive championships in any NCAA women’s sport.
The Terps have had a tough test in their fall schedule, having gone on the road to face Virginia and battled with both Vanderbilt and Georgetown at home.
Stanford, their latest challenge, will be looking to exact revenge on the Terps, as Maryland beat the Card 20-8 last year in College Park, Md.
While the Cardinal will be hoping to get back at the Terrapins, the Card’s other two opponents have an even bigger bone to pick with the girls from Maryland. The Cavaliers lost once in the regular season and once in the ACC Tournament to the Terrapins, and Penn lost to the Terps in the regular season and in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament
Virginia finished ranked No. 5 last year and was bounced from the NCAA Tournament by North Carolina in the quarterfinals. The 17-7 loss to the Heels was especially surprising because the Cavaliers took down the Tar Heels 13-12 in overtime during the regular season. The Cavaliers only had three regular season losses last year, including one to James Madison, who ended Stanford’s season in the NCAA Tournament.
The Card’s final opponent, Penn, finished the season ranked No. 7 after it fell to Maryland in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. The Quakers finished with a 12-3 regular season record, good enough for the Ivy League regular season title. Penn completed the Ivy double when it took home the league’s tournament title with a 9-8 victory over Dartmouth in the championship game.
And while Maryland, Virginia and Penn will steal the spotlight of this weekend’s schedule, the Cardinal will still have another playday on Sunday. After Saturday’s Penn scrimmages, the Card will move to Malvern, Pa., for scrimmages against Drexel, St. Joseph’s and Temple. The three Sunday opponents struggled last season, as the best record belonged to Drexel, who finished 10-7 overall. Temple notched a 7-10 record and St. Joe’s struggled to a 2-14 regular season. None of the three made the NCAA Tournament.
The Philadelphia weekend will be the Cardinal’s only trip away from California this fall, but the venture will be a return home for many of the players on the Cardinal roster. Seventeen of 27 team members hail from the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area, including 11 players from Maryland.
Next weekend, the Card will take a Halloween trip to UC-Davis for a playday. The Cardinal will play Cal, St. Mary’s and UC-Davis in its last series of intercollegiate games before February.