April 17, 2009
DAVIDSON, N.C. - The No. 15 Stanford women's lacrosse team will attempt to enhance its stature in the eyes of the NCAA tournament selection committee by playing a two-game set in North Carolina.
Stanford first plays unranked Davidson (5-8) on Friday (3 p.m. PT), before traveling to Chapel Hill to play No. 4 North Carolina (11-3) on Sunday at 10 a.m. (PT). This is the second of three East Coast trips for Stanford, which completed its Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular season with a 6-0 record last week.
If Stanford (9-3) wins the MPSF tournament at home next week, its hopes of an NCAA at-large bid will depend on its play against nonconference opponents. The MPSF does not have an automatic bid, though it will next year.
Both games are vital toward those NCAA aspirations, but for different reasons. An upset or strong performance against North Carolina will go far. North Carolina is the fourth Top-10 team Stanford will have played this year, with a fifth to come at No. 3 Penn on May 2.
Stanford is 0-3 in such games, at No. 2 Maryland (20-12) and No. 9 Notre Dame (17-8), and home against No. 8 Syracuse (15-10).
But the importance of the Davidson game can't be overlooked. Even if Stanford fails to beat a Top-10 team, it can prove itself by going undefeated, or close to it, against everyone else. Outside of those Top-10 games, Stanford is 3-0, with two opponents having been ranked in the Top 20 at some time during the season. Davidson also falls into that category.
Davidson is 5-3 at home and is led by junior midfielder Jen Crawford, who has 24 goals and four assists.
North Carolina will be playing Stanford two days after what is expected to be an emotional matchup at rival and No. 5 Duke on Friday night. The Tar Heels had an eight-game winning streak snapped last week by Maryland, 13-8, and are hoping to land the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Stanford has a balanced offense. Lauren Schmidt leads the team in points (38) while Sarah Flynn leads in goals (27). In all, the Cardinal has four 20-goal scorers: Flynn, Schmidt (24), Dana Lindsay (23) and Julie Christy (20). Goalkeeper Annie Read ranks 11th in the nation in goals-against average (9.00). Midfielder Maris Perlman, the reigning MPSF Player of the Week, is 21st in caused turnovers (22, 1.83 per game).
Stanford returns home for the MPSF tournament, to be held at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium April 23-26. Stanford is the No. 1 seed and will have a first-round bye. Its first game will be in the semifinals Friday, April 24, at 6 p.m. The championship final is Sunday, April 26, at 1 p.m. Stanford is the four-time defending champion.