By James Hemker
The No. 15 women’s lacrosse team (9-4) routed the San Diego State Aztecs 18-9 (8-5, 0-0 MPSF) on Thursday evening. The win comes just four days after a tough loss to USC in triple overtime on Sunday.
“Coming out of the USC game, the main plan was taking care of the ball and valuing our possessions,” said head coach Amy Bokker. “We also know that we are a really speedy team, so we wanted to be able to execute out of transition. That was another big focus: cleaning the ball up through the midfield and then being able to finish on the offensive end.”
The Cardinal, who have never lost to the Aztecs in seven total contests, executed their offensive plan perfectly. They opened up the game to a quick 3-0 lead and never looked back.
More than half of Stanford’s offensive production came out of the sticks of sophomore attacker Ali Baiocco and junior midfielders Mikaela Watson and Jacie Lemos. Baiocco and Watson each found the back of the net four times, while Lemos scored thrice for her second hat trick of her career.
“I was just trying to work on getting an extra second once I got in,” said Lemos. “I had been beating defenders in past games, but I hadn’t been getting the shot that I wanted on cage, so I think I was mainly trying to get that extra second.”
The remaining goals were procured by a host of Cardinal scorers. Sophomore attackers Katherine Gjertsen and Galen Lew both had a pair of goals. Sophomore attacker Gabby Noto, freshman midfielder Caitlin Chicoski and senior midfielder Areta Buness all managed to slip a shot past the Aztecs’ goalie as well.
Stanford’s own starting goalie, sophomore Trudie Grattan, was a wall in front of the cage, racking up six saves while allowing just five goals in 40 minutes. Freshman Julia Cooper relieved Grattan with 20 minutes to go in the second half, and she tallied three more saves. Two of the four goals Cooper allowed came in garbage time with less than 2:30 to go.
“We knew that they were a tough team in that they really go hard to cage,” said Lemos. “We really worked on our 1v1 defense to stop them in that regard.”
The Cardinal played lockdown defense, deflecting all sorts of attempts by the Aztecs. SDSU converted just three of 11 their free position shots and nine of their 25 total shots. Though Stanford lost the turnover battle 19-18, the Cardinal caused 12 turnovers while the Aztecs’ forced six, representing the intense Stanford pressure all game long.
Senior Julia Massaro continued her draw control dominance, pacing the field with five and helping Stanford amass a 17-12 advantage on the draw front.
For the first three minutes of the game, Stanford was playing on its heels as the Aztecs kept offensive possession of the ball. The Cardinal defense never faltered, and a quick transition allowed Baiocco to draw first blood at 26:44. Just 40 seconds later, Watson created her first score.
Despite losing the ensuing draw, Stanford quickly regained possession and Galen Lew added the third goal in less than two minutes, just before the 25 minute mark. The next five minutes saw SDSU goals sandwich Chicoski’s only goal, closing the lead to 4-2.
Almost two minutes elapsed without a goal before Gjertsen fired off her first ball to find the cage. That score opened the floodgates, and SDSU was subjected to a biblical deluge of shots that lasted for three minutes.
By the end of the flurry of action, Stanford had amassed a 10-2 lead, with contributions from Baiocco, Watson, Lew and again Gjertsen. The Aztecs were able to garner a single goal before Lemos, Buness and Watson tallied three more Cardinal goals.
The final nine minutes of the half were relatively quiet, with SDSU scoring twice to cut the lead to eight, 13-5. With two seconds to go in the half, Lemos found her second goal of the game to give Stanford all of the momentum going into the second half.
After the half, Stanford slowed its pace and took a more deliberate approach to the game, but the goals continued. Baiocco recorded her hat trick just a little over two minutes into the half, and the lead reached 10, triggering the mercy rule which prevents the clock from stopping.
As a result, the half quickly drained away, but not before Baiocco, Lemos and Noto all had another turn to score. Noto’s goal at 13:06 gave Stanford its largest lead of the night, 18-5.
The Aztecs mounted a small, but ultimately meaningless, comeback in the final ten minutes of the game, scoring four times against the Stanford reserve defense.
“We use these non-conference games to prepare for the conference,” said Bokker. “That Denver game was tough for us coming out, but we’ve had great preparation going forward and we feel ready to finish out Pac-12 play strong.”
The win pushes the team’s non-conference record to 5-1 on the year, with the only loss coming in the first game of the season to Denver, as Bokker mentioned. The Cardinal will finish their regular season with three conference matchups, the first of which is at Colorado on April 12.