The Stanford women’s lacrosse team is very clear about its goal this season: win a national championship.
“They have their eyes on the prize and there’s a lot of great energy,” said head coach Amy Bokker. “They have their sights set big and are really focused, so we’re really excited about that as a staff.”
Last season, the Cardinal went 8-10 and was kept from the NCAA tournament after losing to Oregon 13-10 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) championship game. With the win, Oregon claimed the MPSF’s automatic bid into the tournament and the Cardinal was not awarded one of the three at-large bids available.
As of 2013, the NCAA has expanded the women’s lacrosse postseason field from 16 to 26 teams, opening up 10 more at-large berths. However, the Cardinal will still try to earn its spot by winning the MPSF.
To do so, Bokker said Stanford plans to use its speed and athleticism to topple its opponents.
“We feel like we have a really athletic and fast team,” Bokker said. “We’d like to play up-tempo and run our midfield lines through so that we can push the pace along with playing a high-pressure defense.”
The Cardinal has just two seniors on the roster, defender Elizabeth Adam and midfielder Carolyn Bradley. Both players will serve as captains this year along with junior midfielder Anna Kim.
“We are just trying to use our experience from the past three years to make sure that everyone is adjusting to preseason and doing everything they can, mentally and physically, to get ready,” Adam said.
Despite the small senior class, Bokker said her team has a strong group of leaders, particularly among the juniors.
“Rachel Ozer is a big leader for us [on the offensive end],” Bokker said. “Nina Swanson is a junior on the defensive end, so she’s the one that provides a lot of leadership in that area, as well as our goalkeeper Lyndsey Munoz.”
Ozer redshirted last season with an injury, but returns this year along with nine 2012 starters. Besides Kim, Stanford will look to sophomores Hannah Farr and Emily Newstrom to fill the offensive void left by the graduated Emilie Boeri, the Cardinal’s leading scorer from a year ago. Newstrom was second on the team with 28 goals last season, while Kim posted 25 goals in just 11 games of action.
At the other end, Munoz is back in the cage, where she played every minute for the Cardinal en route to earning all-conference recognition in 2012.
Stanford also boasts a strong group of newcomers. Bokker cited seven freshmen that are expected to contribute right away, particularly Mackenzie Tesei, who will take draws for the Cardinal, and speedy midfielder Lucy Dikeou.
“We are really excited about the depth of our freshman class,” Bokker said. “They’ve really integrated very well.”
According to the seniors, after performing well in preseason, the team is eager for the real games to start.
“Everyone is working really hard and doing a really good job preparing themselves for what’s to come,” Bradley said. “We have a lot of experience coming back on the team, and our freshmen have really geared up and they are ready to go — it’s exciting.”
Stanford will have the chance to test itself right away in its season-opening home matchup against perennial contender Notre Dame on Saturday at 3 p.m.
“Notre Dame is not only a rival of Stanford in general, but it’s also the first game so we’re definitely focused on that,” Bokker said. “I don’t mean to be cliché, but we just want to take it one game at a time and focus on each one as we go through.”