April 10, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. - The No. 14 Stanford women's lacrosse team resumes action after an 11-day layoff with its toughest conference week of the season, one that will determine the No. 1 seed in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament. Stanford plays host to California (5-9, 3-1) and Denver (8-5, 2-1), traditionally the Cardinal's toughest conference competition, in a pair of games that will conclude Stanford's conference regular season. A Stanford sweep would wrap up an undefeated MPSF campaign and give the Cardinal the top seed in the MPSF tournament, which takes place at Stanford from April 23-26. Stanford has gone undefeated in conference seven times in its 14-year history, but not since 2005. Stanford has played only two games over the past 33 days.
On the Net
Live video streaming for both games will be available. The free Card Cam webcasts can be found on gostanford.com. Look for the All-Access button at the top of the main page, or go to the Calendar of Events at the bottom, and click on the "Watch" icon.
Sunday's game will mark Senior Day for Stanford, as the program will honor four players in their final conference regular season home game. Players honored will be Vikki Fanslow, Jamie Nesbitt, Maris Perlman, and captain Melissa Vogelsong. Bess Siegfried, another member of the original class of `09, redshirted in 2006 and has another year of eligibility. The players will be recognized in a brief ceremony before the game, at 2:55 p.m.
Truth or Consequences
If Stanford beats Denver (8-5, 2-1), the Cardinal would set up a winner-take-all matchup Sunday with California for the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament April 23-26. A Denver victory would create a four-way tie in the loss column for first place, among Stanford, Denver, Cal, and Oregon. The worst Stanford could do with a victory over Denver, would be to finish with a first-place tie for first, with either Cal or Oregon. If an undefeated Stanford loses to Cal, the Cardinal would have to hope Oregon beats the Bears on April 17. If not, Cal would get the No. 1 seed and the bye.
Friday's Opponent: Denver
The Pioneers (8-5, 2-1) were the preseason choice to win the conference, in a poll of MPSF coaches, and were ranked No. 20 in the nation. However, their hopes for the regular-season title and top seed took a hit with an 11-9 home loss to Oregon on Saturday. Denver took the No. 1 seed into last year's MPSF tournament, but lost in the final to Stanford in Berkeley. Ali Flury, a junior midfield player, is on her way to reaching last year's total of 50 goals. She has 42 this season and leads the conference in scoring, with 49 points. Denver also has the conferernce's assist leader, Megan Carver, who has 22.
The Denver Series
Stanford holds a 12-3 overall series lead, but has lost in the regular season to the Pioneers in each of the past two years. In 2007, Stanford lost at home, 12-8. Last year, the score was 13-9, helping Denver go undefeated and finish first in the MPSF, while Stanford finished third, behind the Pioneers and Cal. However, Stanford reversed those losses each time in the MPSF tournament final, which determined the conference champion. Stanford and Denver have played the past three years in the MPSF championship game, with Stanford winning each time, including 9-8 last year in Berkeley.
Conference Winning Streak
Including last season's conference tournament results, Stanford has a seven-game winning streak in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. While that's the longest in the MPSF (Stanford is the only undefeated team remaining), it's far from the longest in Stanford history. From 2000-04, Stanford won 32 consecutive conferernce and conference tournanent games. The streak was so long it encompassed three conferences -- the Western Women's Lacrosse League, Mountain Pacific Lacrosse League, and MPSF. The streak was ended by Cal in the 2004 MPSF championship final.
Saturday's Opponent: California
The Big Game, Lacrosse Style, will have implications for the regular-season title and MPSF tournament top seed regardless of Stanford's result against Denver on Friday. Actually, the best thing for California would be a Stanford victory over Denver on Friday. If Denver receives a second conference loss, Cal (5-9, 3-1) would control its own destiny for the No. 1 seed. Even if Cal ties Stanford or Oregon, it would hold the tiebreakers by beating each in its final two regular-season games. However, Cal does not hold a tiebreaker over Denver, which beat the Bears, 11-10, in Denver on March 28.
The Cal Series
The Bears and UC Davis remain Stanford's oldest rivals in lacrosse, going back to their days as club programs. Stanford holds an 18-7 lead in the series since 1997, and has played Cal more times than any other program. The teams have played each other in the conference tournament eight of the past nine years, with the Cardinal holding a 7-1 lead in those games. Cal beat visiting Stanford in the regular season last year, 11-9, but lost in the MPSF semifinals at home, 11-8.