A slow offensive start coupled with a slew of turnovers caused the Stanford women’s lacrosse team to drop its matchup against Denver last Saturday, registering its first conference loss of the season. With the loss, the Cardinal falls to 1-1 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) play and 3-8 overall.
Denver (10-1, 4-0), which has not lost a game since its season opener against Johns Hopkins, proved from the opening whistle that it will be a serious contender to break Stanford’s streak of seven consecutive MPSF championships come tournament play on April 27. The Pioneers roared into the first period, scoring six unanswered goals in under 14 minutes.
Senior Emilie Boeri finally broke through for the Cardinal on an assist from classmate Maria Fortino and then again on a free position shot in the same minute to put Stanford on the board. Boeri then provided the assist to freshman Emily Newstrom, who cut the lead to three with just over 13 minutes to play in the period. After being held scoreless for almost eight minutes, Denver freshman Jill Remenapp found the back of the net to end Stanford’s 3-0 run. Both teams traded goals once more before the Cardinal entered the break behind 8-4.
Stanford found itself in another quick deficit to start the second period. After a goal by Fortino, the Pioneers scored three times in as many minutes to lead 11-5. Freshmen Kyle Fraser and Newstrom scored to keep Stanford in the game, but Denver scored again to pull ahead 12-7. Emilie Boeri quickly shot back with a goal of her own off an assist from sister Anna Boeri, but the opposing defense quashed whatever offensive momentum remained until senior Catherine Swanson scored one final time in the final four minutes of the game. Despite its late efforts, the Cardinal could not claw back from its early deficit and fell 12-9.
Stanford committed 25 turnovers to Denver’s 15, and the Pioneers capitalized on the unforced errors. Although the Cardinal won nine of 13 draw controls in the first period, it quickly turned the ball over, allowing Denver to drive back down the field and score. These lost opportunities cost Stanford, as it was outshot 17-9 in the period. Denver junior Kate Henrich, who leads the nation with 3.1 caused turnovers per game, added six more to her season tally as she helped the Pioneers’ defense shut down the Cardinal. The second half was a closer matchup statistically, but the Pioneers won more draw controls, committed fewer turnovers and attempted more shots than the Card.
Stanford, which comes home to play at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium for the first time in over a month, faces another difficult conference opponent in Oregon (9-4, 4-0) on Friday. The Ducks currently sit atop the MPSF standings, winning their most recent game against UC-Davis 16-13. Stanford’s defense will have to provide an answer to sophomores Shannon Propst and Nikki Puszcz, who lead the team with 23 and 25 goals, respectively, and a combined 26 assists.
More importantly, Stanford will have to solve its own first period woes. The Cardinal has proven that it can compete with the nation’s best in a string of heartbreakingly close losses, but it has been consistently slow to get going and has relied on its stronger second period play. To defend its conference championship, the Card will have to get on the board early rather than continue to struggle from behind.
Stanford will face Oregon on Friday at 7 p.m. at Cagan Stadium.