By Jana Persky
Anyone wandering by the women’s lacrosse game at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium on Sunday may have been a little bit confused to see that Stanford’s opponents’ jerseys said Team USA. While Stanford is large enough to have its own zip code, it doesn’t usually compete on a national level.
It was no typo, however. The teams were playing each other as part of the Stars and Stripes women’s lacrosse event, which matches top collegiate and international teams. Stanford would go on to lose the game against Team USA 17-6.
While the exhibition was intended to serve as a warm-up for Team USA in its march to the 2013 FIL World Cup, it was also a good kickoff for the Cardinal. “We haven’t had a lot of practices under our belt because we only started school on September 24 so that’s when we started everything,” said assistant coach Lauren Schwarzmann, who also competes for Team USA as a midfielder. “No other team in the country was doing what we were doing this weekend and I think it was an incredible opportunity for the Stanford team to go out there and play the best competition in the world.”
This was the first time that Team USA had played in California, a sign of the sport’s growing West Coast presence. “We are growing the game out here in California, so it’s pretty amazing that we have this caliber of teams and players to be out here at Stanford and see our facilities and everything we have to offer the sport,” Schwarzmann said.
The Cardinal began the tournament with a 12-8 loss to Team England on Wednesday, but bounced back to defeat Rikkyo of Japan, 20-2. Freshmen Meg Lentz and Paige Southmayd both recorded hat tricks in the game against Rikkyo as 12 different players scored for Stanford.
The win left Stanford riding high with plenty of confidence heading into Thursday’s match against Team Australia. After trailing 10-5 at halftime, Stanford made a comeback charge behind several great saves by junior goalie Lyndsey Munoz and a late tying goal from Southmayd. However, the Aussies won the ensuing faceoff and scored with 30 seconds left to take the game.
The main challenge for the Cardinal was Sunday’s game against Team USA. Freshman midfielder Lucy Dikeou opened the game with a free position goal just 30 seconds in. But after that, Stanford had difficulty getting into a rhythm as Team USA dominated draw controls and maintained possession.
Goalkeeper Munoz recorded eight saves in the first half, many of the spectacular variety, as Stanford struggled to clear against the high octane Team USA press. Junior attacker Annie Anton also added a goal, but Team USA closed the half on an 8-0 run and lead 12-2 at halftime.
The Card tightened up defensively at the beginning of the second half, holding Team USA to just one goal in the first 18 minutes of the half. However, Team USA subsequently exploded for three goals in four minutes to extend their lead. Stanford managed to respond with a streak of its own as freshman midfielder Julia Burns, Dikeou and Southmayd scored three consecutive goals before Team USA put in the final point of the game. Freshman goaltender Katie Wiseman stepped in to start the second half and also recorded eight saves on the day.
Despite mixed results on the scoreboard, the team believes the tournament was a success. “Our main goal was to try our hardest and see what we have to work on going forward,” Munoz said. “There are always going to be things we need to work on, especially since we have only been playing together for a week but I think our defense was run very well and the communication was good.”
“I think [the team] did awesome,” Schwarzmann said. “Obviously it was very good competition. It was one of those things were they went out and played very hard and I think they showed well for their first fall ball event.”
The Cardinal will be heading out to the East Coast next weekend to play in a tournament at Georgetown and Navy.