By Inyoung Choi
No. 20 women’s lacrosse (0-1, 0-0 Pac-12) lost to No. 10 University of Denver (1-0, 0-0 Big East) in its inaugural game of the season on Saturday by a final score of 13-17.
As one of the nation’s top ranked teams, Denver proved to be a formidable opponent from the onset. The Pioneers struck first, scoring within the first minute on a goal by star attacker Eliza Radochonski. Soon after, Stanford’s All-Pac-12, All-America honorable mention junior attacker Ali Baiocco leveled the score 1-1.
From there, the Cardinal struggled to keep pace with the potent Denver offense. The Pioneers finished the first half on a dominant run up by seven goals. Baiocco, senior midfield Mikaela Watson and freshman attack/midfielder Jay Browne scored three field goals throughout the game but the deficit still loomed large. The Cardinal trailed 5-12 at the half.
“Denver has their own style of offense, and it’s different [from Stanford’s],” said head coach Danielle Spencer. “We made adjustments in the second half, but it took the entire first half for us to experience that and then finally go into halftime and make those adjustments.”
As soon as the second half began, junior attacker Katherine Gjertsen netted a goal from an assist from Browne. However, the Cardinal again couldn’t fully slow down Denver on the offensive end. The Pioneers went on a 3-0 scoring run in the next nine minutes to extend their lead.
A Browne score on a Watson assist shifted momentum for the final part of the game. In the final 20 minutes, Stanford made a total of six goals and outscored Denver in this second half, 8-5. However, the Cardinal could not overcome the initial seven goal deficit.
“I didn’t want to lose my first game,” Spencer said. “Despite that frustration, I actually feel really optimistic about the future of this team.”
One reason was Stanford’s shot percentage. Stanford made 13 out of 31 shots in this game. Last year’s season opener, also against the Pioneers, a game in which Stanford lost 7-8, the team made 7 out of 20 shots—a percentage of .350. This year’s rematch saw the Cardinal shoot more than 50 percentage points better with a .419 percentage.
Browne’s debut also provided plenty of reason for optimism. She finished with a total of 6 points, four field goals and two assists.
“You have to put yourself out there to be successful as an attacker, and sometimes freshmen struggle with that early on in the season because they’re fearful of making mistakes.” Spencer said. “So what I’m most excited about for Jay is that she took some risks.”
Stanford women’s lacrosse returns to Maloney field to play its first home game of the season on Friday at 3 p.m. PT.
Contact Inyoung Choi at ichoi ‘at’ stanford.edu.