May 9, 2006
The Stanford women's lacrosse team heads to Evanston, Ill. to play in the first NCAA Tournament match featuring a west coast team. The Cardinal earned the program's first-ever bid to the elite 16-team tournament yesterday, when the field was announced live on CSTV. The Cardinal will take on the fourth-seeded Northwestern Wildcats in the first round. First draw is scheduled for 2 p.m. (CT) Sunday, May 14 at Lakeside Field on the Northwestern campus.
ON THE HORIZON
The winner of the Stanford-Northwestern match will face the winner of the North Carolina-Maryland match on May 20. Stanford fell to the Tar Heels 12-5 earlier this season, in the first-ever contest between the two teams. A meeting with Maryland, head coach Michele Uhlfelder's alma mater, would be the first in history.
The Cardinal finished the regular-season on April 30 with a winning percentage above .600 for the third time in the last four years. Stanford then cruised through the MPSF Tournament, getting revenge on California with a 17-6 win, before handling Denver 12-6 in the championship game. In 2006, Stanford battled a tough schedule, which included 11 games versus opponents that had either been ranked or received votes this season. Despite one of the toughest lineups in the nation, the Cardinal emerged with an impressive 12-5 overall record and the second-longest winning streak in school history. In conference, Stanford went 4-1 to tie for the top spot in the regular-season standings. In non-conference match-ups, which included top-ranked Northwestern, No. 5 North Carolina and three Ivy League opponents, the Cardinal posted a 6-4 record. In late February, the squad bested Ohio State before falling in a double-overtime heartbreaker to then-No. 17 Notre Dame. Stanford battled back from the loss, however, and rallied to knock out Vanderbilt the following week, a program then-ranked 12th in the IWLCA poll. The Cardinal earned another non-conference win on March 11, taking down Columbia for the first time in program history. On March 25, the squad was overwhelmed by top-ranked Northwestern, suffering a 19-8 defeat despite a six-goal first half. On the team's first road trip, Stanford fell to No. 15 Dartmouth, 13-9, and No. 5 North Carolina, 12-5, despite a combined 38 saves by Laura Shane. The Cardinal recovered to edge Loyola in Baltimore, on a late game-winner by sophomore Anna Brown. Two weeks ago, the rock-solid defense of Laura Shane led the Cardinal to wins over UConn and No. 10 Cornell. Overall in 2006, the Cardinal has outscored opponents by 36 percent, 208-153.
A WOMEN'S LACROSSE PIONEER
The game of women's lacrosse has officially expanded westward, as one of this year's top teams hails from none other than Stanford, Calif. Until this year, no school west of the Mississippi had been a part of the elite NCAA Tournament. For 24 years, no west coast club could find a way to break into the 16-team field. Yesterday, Michele Uhlfelder and the Cardinal changed all that. Head coach Uhlfelder has become a key name in women's lacrosse history, responsible for turning the eyes of the selection committee west. Since coming to Stanford in 2001, Uhlfelder has been a pioneer of the sport. Immediately upon her hiring, she shifted the program's goals from being best in the west to becoming a national contender. From the beginning, Uhlfelder was determined that she could make a west coast team into a tournament team. Less than a year after being hired, her team became the first west coast team to appear in the top-20. Since then, her teams have reached more and more milestones, soaring and high as No. 14 in the national rankings. This year, the team was ranked all but one week of the season and beat a top-10 team for the first time in program history.
BEST IN THE CONFERENCE
Last week, four Cardinal players were named to the All-MPSF Women's Lacrosse Team. Senior Megan Burker received her third All-MPSF honor, while sophomore Laura Shane was honored as the best goalkeeper in the conference for the second straight year. Junior midfielder Liz Piselli and sophomore defender Bri Ned received the honor for the first time in their careers. Ned, along with senior Sarah Bach and sophomore Daphne Patterson, was named to the MPSF All-Tournament team on Sunday after Stanford captured its second-straight conference championship. Burker was named the MVP of the event.
ON THE VERGE OF A RECORD
Senior Megan Burker has been a key player for the Cardinal squad all season. Offensively, she leads the team with 42 goals, 17 assists and 59 total points. She was named to the MPSF All-Conference team for the third straight year and recognized as the MVP of the MPSF Tournament this weekend after notching 11 points in two days. The NCAA Tournament berth gives Burker a chance to leave Stanford with one more honor under her belt: a career scoring record. To date, Burker has 140 career goals, just two short of Katharine Barnes' mark set in 2001. Burker averages 2.5 goals per game, positioning her to match if not top the mark. The senior scored two against the Wildcats last time around. Additionally, the Baltimore, Md. native is one of just three Cardinal players in history to stand in the career top-10 in every statistical category.
BACH NETS 100TH CAREER GOAL
In Sunday's MPSF Championship match, senior Sarah Bach capitalized on a free position attempt and joined an elite group of Cardinal women's lacrosse players. The goal was the 100th of Bach's career. The senior joins teammate Megan Burker, along with Katharine Barnes `01, Kelsey Twist `05, Abbi Hills `04, Nina Pantano `05, and Hedy Born `00 in the elite Cardinal club. Bach now has 103 career goals, sixth best in Cardinal history. The Baltimore, Md. native has also etched her name on the career lists in assists (fourth), shots (sixth), free position shots on goal (fifth), ground balls (seventh), draw controls (seventh) and games played (t-sixth). In 2005, Bach was Stanford's leading scorer and this year she has been the most consistent. The senior has scored in 15 of 17 games this season and is the only Cardinal player to have recorded at least one point in every game.
The Cardinal currently ranks in the top-20 nationally in four statistical categories. Stanford averages 12.24 goals per game, the 18th highest scoring offense in the nation. The team's 3.24 goal scoring margin is 17th in the NCAA, while its .706 winning percentage stands 14th. After holding two opponents to just six goals in both games this weekend, the Cardinal jumped to 19th in the NCAA in scoring defense (9.0). Goalkeeper Laura Shane stands second of all Division I keepers with a .566 save percentage, and is right on the heels of Holy Cross' Megan Orr. Her goals-against average of 9.08 is 18th in the NCAA and her 22-save performance against North Carolina in early April remains tied for the top single-game mark in the NCAA. She also carries the second-highest single-game mark, with 21 saves on February 26 against Notre Dame, and remains the only goalkeeper in the nation to register more than one 20+ save performance this season. Senior Megan Burker appears in the individual national rankings in the draw control category. Her 2.82 per game currently ranks 18th.
Seniors Sarah Bach and Megan Burker have been the dominant attackers for the Cardinal this season, and together are responsible for 38 percent of Stanford's points. The duo tends to step up in big games and consistently comes through for the Cardinal when the game is on the line. Burker is key in the center circle for Stanford, winning more than a quarter of all draw controls for the squad. Sophomore Daphne Patterson is the second-leading scorer, boasting 38 goals this season. Patterson has netted a goal in all but one match this year and has scored three or more on seven occasions. Junior Michelle DeChant rounds out the Stanford attack, and is a player than can catch fire quickly. She tied a career-high with five goals against Ohio State earlier this year and has netted multiple goals in four other matches.
Junior Liz Pisellli is the star of the Stanford midfield, having registered eight multiple-goal performances this season. The Rockville Centre, NY native is the fourth-leading scorer for the Cardinal, with 28 goals and 10 assists. Piselli is key in all aspects of the game, however. She is the leading field player in ground balls, a team leader in caused turnovers, and stands second on the squad in draw controls. Sophomore Megan McClain is another rock of the Stanford midfield. She has started all 17 games for the Cardinal and tends to come up with a goal at crucial times. Sophomore Anna Brown, Stanford's most accurate shooter, has come off the bench this season to score key goals. The Denver, Colo. native has eight goals this year, including the game-winner at Loyola on April 22.
Sophomore Bri Ned is the top defender for the Cardinal and boasts 16 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers this year. Seniors Nyerr Parham, Kinsey Morrison and Thea Lorentzen bring experience to the back line, while Bryanne Gilkinson and Rachel Dyke came through for the Cardinal with strong performances in the MPSF Tournament last weekend. As a whole, the Stanford defense has caused 146 turnovers, held opponents to 33.7 percent shooting and broken up 38 opponent clears.
Sophomore Laura Shane is recognized as one of the top goalkeepers in the nation. She has already made 192 saves this season, including 92 in Stanford's six games against ranked opponents (15.3 per game). Shane is one of three goalkeepers and 21 players still in contention for the elite Tewaaraton Trophy, and has been consistently ranked in the top-five nationally for her save percentage. As just a sophomore she stands second on the Stanford career chart with 396 total saves.
Cardinal head coach Michele Uhlfelder, a Maryland alum, boasts a 72-35 (.673) career record. She has won 96 percent of conference games with Stanford, carrying a record of 43-2. In six seasons, she has captured six regular-season conference championships, five conference tournament championships and recorded nine single-season winning streaks of four games or more. Uhlfelder was named the US Lacrosse Coach of the Week on May 1, after leading Stanford to its first-ever victory over a top-10 program.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS
Northwestern, the defending national champion, has been the top-ranked team in the nation for the majority of the 2006 season. The Wildcats enter the tournament as the No. 4 seed and carry a 16-1 overall record. The squad's only loss came at the hands of Duke on April 7, and snapped a 31-game win streak. Since then, the Wildcats have won six in a row and three-straight against ranked opponents. Recently, they defeated two top-10 teams in the span of three days. Northwestern is led by head coach Kelly Amonte-Hiller, who finished an outstanding career at Maryland in 1996. Junior Kristen Kjellman leads the team in goals with 61 this season, while senior Lindsey Munday leads the team in total points with 41 goals and 46 assists. The Wildcats have six players who have scored 20+ goals already this season. Northwestern leads the nation in scoring offense, scoring margin, win percentage and draw controls.
BY THE NUMBERS
Stanford averages 12.2 goals per game and holds opponents to 9.0. Northwestern scores 16.5 goals per game and holds opponents to 8.1. The Cardinal shoots 42.4 percent, while Northwestern maintains a 49.6 percent clip. Stanford wins 48.1 percent of draw controls compared to Northwestern's 60.9 percent. The teams have played seven common opponents this season. Northwestern is 7-0 in those meetings and Stanford is 5-2 in its most recent matches with those opponents.
THE SERIES WITH NORTHWESTERN
Sunday's meeting between Stanford and Northwestern will be the fifth in history and the second this season. Northwestern leads the series 3-1 after defeating the Cardinal in the last three meetings. Earlier this year, the Wildcats won a 19-8 decision at Maloney Field, despite a six-goal first half effort by the Cardinal. Stanford's only victory against the program came in the 2003 season, when the team topped Northwestern 9-5 behind the two goals of then freshman Megan Burker.