After seven straight seasons of winning the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference championship, the Stanford women’s lacrosse team found itself in an unfamiliar position on Sunday as Oregon claimed this year’s title. The Cardinal entered the game riding a five-game win streak, including Friday’s 14-9 upset of second-seeded Denver to open tournament play, but the Card could not get past the mighty Ducks offense, and it will watch from home as Oregon advances to the NCAA play-in game against Navy.
Although Sunday’s loss certainly disappointed a team hoping to make its third straight appearance in the NCAA tournament, Friday’s rout showed glimpses of a team that has a strong foundation to build on for next season. The Cardinal (8-10, 6-3 MPSF) team that lost to Denver (12-3, 6-1) just a few weeks earlier looked wildly different this team, and Stanford showed why it is one of the conference’s top programs year in and year out.
The first period against Denver started with the teams trading goals, showing hints of a potential slugfest to be determined in the final minutes. But Stanford would need no last-second goal to send the Pioneers packing. After watching its early three-goal lead shrink to one, the Cardinal offense caught fire in the final four minutes to score six times and enter the break with a 10-3 lead. The team easily outmaneuvered any Denver defensive attempts and capitalized on the Pioneers’ mistakes–two Stanford goals came from free position shots off of Pioneer fouls.
Denver tried to change the game’s tempo following the break and scored twice in the period’s first 10 minutes. But the offensive efforts of seniors Emilie Boeri and Catherine Swanson and freshman Meredith Kalinowski ensured there would be no Pioneer rally, as the three combined for Stanford’s final four goals of the game. Denver netted three more scores, but it was not enough to overcome the overall Cardinal dominance.
Against Oregon (14-5, 9-0), however, the Stanford offense could not get going until the second period, and the team fell 13-10. The Ducks led 8-3 at the break, but a goal from freshman Emily Newstrom and two from Emilie Boeri cut the lead to two. This was as close as the Cardinal would get, as Oregon had answers for every Stanford run. Sophomore Anna Kim finished with a hat trick, while Newstrom and Boeri had two goals each in the loss.
Sunday was the final contest for the team’s four seniors: Maria Fortino, Swanson, Boeri and her sister, Anna Boeri. Emilie Boeri finished the season with a team-high 40 goals, 23 assists and 83 shots. Swanson led the team in ground balls and draw controls and will leave a large hole in the midfield. Both Emilie Boeri and Swanson were named to the All-MPSF First Team last week. Anna Boeri, who also consistently produced on offense, finished second in assists (18) and fifth in goals (21).
Despite a missed championship, the weekend also showed that the young team has much to look forward to in the upcoming season. Newstrom, Kalinowski and fellow freshmen Hannah Farr and Kyle Fraser combined for a total of 11 goals in the two games. Newstrom was second in goals and shots this season, and Farr joined Boeri and Swanson on the All-MPSF First Team. Additionally, all three of the team’s All-MPSF Second Team honorees were sophomores: Anna Kim, Lyndsey Muñoz and Nina Swanson.