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Second half dooms women’s lacrosse against Notre Dame

Junior Rachel Ozer (above)

Junior Rachel Ozer (above) tallied three goals and two assists, but it wasn’t enough as Notre Dame rallied back from a 7-2 halftime deficit to top Stanford, 12-10. (IAN GARCIA-DOTY/The Stanford Daily)

The first half of the first game of the 2013 season went exactly the way the Stanford women’s lacrosse team had hoped. The second half saw it all slip away. The Cardinal (0-1) carried a 7-2 lead into halftime against No. 9 Notre Dame, but ultimately lost 12-10 in the season opener on Saturday afternoon at Cagan Stadium.

Stanford has said that its goal this season is to compete with the top teams in the country, and it proved that it could early in the game. The Cardinal attack was all over the Fighting Irish as it tallied 14 shots in the first half alone.

After Notre Dame’s Jaimie Morrison opened the scoring five minutes into the game, freshman Lucy Dikeou answered back with the first goal of her Cardinal career to tie the score at one.

For the rest of the half, the Stanford offense was firing on all cylinders. Senior captain Carolyn Bradley, junior captain Anna Kim, freshman Meg Lentz and sophomore Emily Newstrom all recorded goals while junior Rachel Ozer pumped in two goals and two assists. The attacker, who missed most of the 2012 season with injury, tallied three goals and two assists for the game.

Stanford’s defense, led by junior Nina Swanson and sophomore Rachel Kalick, also locked down in the first half, holding Notre Dame to two goals on just four shots.

Although the Cardinal entered halftime with momentum after a 7-1 scoring run, Notre Dame would turn the tide immediately after the break. The Fighting Irish scored less than a minute into the second period to cut the lead to 7-3.

After Dikeou scored her second unassisted goal of the game, Notre Dame scored five consecutive goals in under six minutes to tie the game at 8-8. Notre Dame outshot Stanford 21-8 in the second half.

The last fifteen minutes of the game were filled with back-and-forth action as both teams fought frantically to hold on to the lead.

Dikeou, who had three goals in a strong collegiate debut, again gave the Cardinal the lead on a shot that was assisted by fellow freshman Adrienne Anderson. However, that would be Stanford’s final lead, as the Fighting Irish came back with two goals in three minutes to put Notre Dame ahead for the first time since the score was 1-0 early in the game.

Ozer added her third goal, with an assist from sophomore Meredith Kalinowski, to tie the game at 10 with just over nine minutes remaining. That would be the final tally of the game for the Cardinal.

Notre Dame converted a free position shot — the only free position attempt of the game — with 5:40 to go and then added an insurance goal — Notre Dame’s 10th of the half — to stretch the lead to 12-10 less than a minute later. The Cardinal pressured hard for the remainder of the game, but Notre Dame was able to maintain possession and run out the clock, securing the comeback.

Although Stanford’s defense struggled to contain the potent Irish attack in the second half, there were positive signs for the Cardinal. Besides Dikeou, six other freshmen made their Cardinal debuts to give Stanford young depth.

The unranked squad also picked up more ground balls (15-11) and had fewer turnovers (15-16) than the top-ten ranked Fighting Irish. In net, junior goalkeeper Lyndsey Munoz had seven saves on the day.

The Cardinal returns to action next Sunday, Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. when it hosts the Harvard Crimson at Cagan Stadium.

Contact Jana Persky at jpersky “at” stanford.edu.