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The following is a closer look at Thursday’s game:
Who: No. 17 Stanford (12-3, 6-2) vs. California (5-10, 3-5)
When: Thursday, 4 p.m.
Where: Laird Q. Cagan Stadium; Stanford, Calif.
All-Time Series Record: Stanford leads, 27-7
Live Stats: Look for links at gostanford.com
TV: The game airs live on the Pac-12 Network
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The MPSF Race: This game could be pivotal to both teams. Stanford would capture the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the MPSF tournament (May 1-4) with a victory, combined with an Oregon loss to first-place Denver on Friday. A loss would drop Stanford to the No. 4 seed. California’s hopes hinge on the result of Wednesday’s game between Fresno State and San Diego State. A Fresno victory means Cal can advance to the MPSF tournament with the sixth and final spot if the Bears also beat Stanford. An SDSU victory over Fresno means Cal’s season ends Thursday.
Week in Review: Stanford played three games in six days, including two on the road, and emerged with a 2-1 record. Stanford beat UC Davis, 18-6, at home on Tuesday, and won at San Diego State, 15-10, on Friday, before losing to USC, 11-10, on Sunday at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The USC game featured four lead changes and five ties. Kelsey Murray, Rachel Ozer, and Alex Poplawski each scored six goals during the week.
Season in Review: Stanford returned 11 starters and 96 percent of its goals from last year’s team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. Stanford has played three teams that were ranked in the Top 20 at the time of their contests and went 3-0 in those games. On March 29, Stanford beat No. 6 Notre Dame, 11-10. The Cardinal rallied from a 9-6 second-half deficit with a 4-0 run. Lucy Dikeou sliced through the defense for the winner with 4:05 left. Megan Lerner drew a charge with 17 seconds left to preserve the win. The other games were back-to-back comeback road overtime victories at No. 11 Towson, 8-7, and No. 14 Georgetown, 11-10, on March 7 and 9.
Stanford in the Rankings:
IWLCA coaches: No. 17 (No. 13 last week)
Brine media poll: No. 11 (No. 9)
Lacrosse Magazine: No. 17 (No. 12)
Lax Power computer: No. 19 (No. 16)
RPI: No. 14 (No. 13)
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Thursday’s Opponent, California: The Golden Bears (5-10, 3-5) close the regular season playing their best lacrosse of the season. Cal has won three of its past five and vaulted back into tournament contention. If San Diego State loses Wednesday, Cal must beat Stanford to secure the sixth and final seed for the conference tournament. Cal, which is coming off a 7-6 victory over Colorado, is led by freshman Bella Huther, who has 42 goals. Another freshman, goalie Katie Gutierrez, has recently joined the starting lineup and has been a key to the Bears’ resurgence. Cal’s Gaby Christman leads the MPSF and is No. 5 in the nation in caused turnovers
The Stanford-California Series: Stanford leads the all-time series, 27-7. The teams were the West Coast powerhouses in the early days of the MPSF. In fact, they have met in the conference tournament 11 of the past 13 years. Included in those meetings were seven conference championship games, the most recent in 2009. Stanford has won the past 10 games in the series. Cal’s most recent victory was in Feb. 28, 2008, by an 11-9 score. At home, Stanford has won the past 14 meetings. Cal has not won at Stanford since 1997 in the WWLL semifinals, 10-4. Last year, Stanford won both meetings, including in the MPSF semifinals, 16-6.
Best Records: If Stanford beats Cal, the Cardinal will finish theregular season with three or fewer losses for the second time in history. Only the 2011 team, which went 14-2, had a better record. Stanford is 12-3.
Scoring Streak: Lucy Dikeou has scored 16 goals in her past five games (she did not play against UC Davis or Colorado). She has scored a point in all 13 games she has played. Dikeou, a sophomore who is on the Tewaaraton watch list, has 26 goals this season.
Tewaaraton Watch List: Stanford has had three players on the watch list for the Tewaaraton Award, collegiate lacrosse’s highest individual annual honor: sophomore midfielder Lucy Dikeou, junior midfielder Hannah Farr, and senior attack Rachel Ozer. The list, which had 58 names, will be cut to 25 on Thursday. Five finalists will be announced May 8 and invited to the awards ceremony May 29 in Washington, D.C.
Rally Time: Stanford has trailed in nine games this year, and has a 6-3 record in those games. Here are some facts about Stanford in games in which it has trailed:
• In games when trailing at halftime, Stanford is 3-2.
• When trailing with 10:00 left in the 2nd half: 2-2.
• In games when trailing by two or more: 3-1.
• When trailing by multiple goals in the second half: 2-0.
• Largest deficit: 10-4, 2nd half vs. Georgetown; Stanford won 11-10 in 2OT.
Overtime: Stanford has played three overtime games this season, going 2-1. The victories came in consecutive games over ranked teams on the road. On March 7, Hannah Farr scored on a free-position shot one second before the first overtime half and the goal stood in an 8-7 victory at No. 11 Towson. On March 9, Stanford overcame a 10-4 second-half deficit by shutting out No. 14 Georgetown over the final 32:03 of the game. Alexandra Crerend scored on a free-position with one second left in regulation to tie it, 10-10. Lyndsey Munoz saved a free-position shot in the first overtime and Lucy Dikeou scored the winner with 3:46 left in the first sudden-victory overtime period. On March 2, Stanford lost to Vanderbilt, 16-15, by allowing two goals in the final 34 seconds of the first overtime period.
Against Ranked Teams: Stanford has played three games against teams that were ranked in the IWLCA at the time of the game, and has gone 3-0 -- all on the road. Stanford won back-to-back overtime victories over No. 11 Towson (8-7) and No. 14 Georgetown (11-10) on March 7 and 9. On March 29, Stanford beat No. 6 Notre Dame, 11-10, rallying from a 9-6 deficit. In games against teams currently ranked in the IWLCA Top 20, Stanford is 2-0: beating now-No. 10 Ohio State, 11-9, in the season opener, and now-No. 13 Notre Dame. Against five teams that have been ranked in the Top 20 at some point this season, including a loss to Denver, Stanford is 4-1.
National/Conference Rankings: The following are Stanford’s top rankings as a team and individual in the nation and MPSF (in parentheses):
12th, Winning percentage, .800 (2nd)
14th, Scoring Offense, 13.67 (2nd)
16th, Scoring Margin, 4.87 (3rd)
22nd, Points, 280 (3rd)
24th, Ground Balls Per Game, 17.40 (2nd)
33rd, Goals Against Average, Lyndsey Munoz, 8.91 (3rd)
56th, Caused Turnovers, Lucy Dikeou, 1.38 (6th)
79th, Save Percentage, Lyndsey Munoz, .388 (6th)
80th, Caused Turnovers, Megan Lerner, 1.27 (9th)
81st, Saves, Lyndsey Munoz, 73 (7th)
Stanford’s Seniors: This is the final home game for four Stanford graduating seniors. Here is some information about each, all of whom are from Maryland:
• Anna Kim: Midfielder from Clarksville, Md. ... four-year starter ... team captain ... 2013 IWLCA All-West Region second team ... described as “the rock” of the team by coach Amy Bokker ... will graduate in June with a degree in science, technology, and society ... plans to work in marketing or with a small production company ... parents are Korean immigrants, who met at University of Maryland ... obsessed with dogs, though she’s never had one, and Harry Potter.
• Megan Lerner: Defender from Lutherville, Md. ... plays defense like her beloved Baltimore Ravens, with energy and emotion ... owns school records for draw controls in a season (63) and game (nine). She had eight on Sunday against Colorado ... drew a charge with 17 seconds left to preserve an 11-10 victory over then-No. 6 Notre Dame ... will graduate in June with a degree in human biology ... plans to earn her master’s and apply to medical school.
• Lyndsey Munoz: Goalkeeper from Crofton, Md. ... made an impact as a freshman when she came off the bench in the MPSF tournament final and allowed only three goals to Oregon in the final 45 minutes to lead Stanford to victory, earning tournament MVP honors ... writes a regular blog for laxmagazine.com ... three-year starter ... second among goalies in Stanford history in games played, with 65 ... will graduate in June with a degree in communications ... plans to coach lacrosse and work in marketing, public relations, or social media.
• Nina Swanson: Defender from Potomac, Md. ... three-year starter ... two-time All-MPSF and MPSF All-Academic selection ... team captain ... described by Bokker as the team’s “calming influence.” ... will graduate in June with a degree in science, technology, and society ... has accepted a position with Hall Capital Partners, an investment group in San Francisco ... sister Catherine played lacrosse at Stanford from 2009-12.
She’ll Be Back: Another senior, Rachel Ozer, will return for a fifth season. She is the team’s season points leader with 32. She is No. 12 on Stanford all-time points list (139). Ozer will co-term next year in environmental engineering -- completing requirements for bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the same time. She also is No. 14 all-time at Stanford in goals (92) and is on the Tewaaraton watch list.
Two-Sport Athlete: Junior midfielder Hannah Farr not only is one of the best players in the West, but she is a two-sport athlete at Stanford, also playing on the Cardinal’s powerhouse soccer team. Farr is No. 3 on the team in goals, with 24 this season. Farr, a midfielder who usually is among the first off the bench in soccer, was a member of Stanford’s 2011 NCAA championship soccer team as a freshman. She is the first ever at Stanford to participate in soccer and lacrosse. In lacrosse, she is a two-time All-MPSF first-team choice, is on the Tewaaraton Award watch list and was named the MSPF Offensive Player of the Week on March 17. She also is among the first Bay Area natives to play lacrosse for Stanford, having grown up just 16 miles up the Peninula, in Hillsborough, and attended San Francisco’s St. Ignatius Prep.
Poplawski’s Streak: Freshman Alex Poplawski has not only started all 15 games of her brief collegiate career, but she has scored goals in 14 of them, including the first eight. Poplawski, a 6-foot midfielder from Springfield, Pa., scored four goals against Cornell and is fourth on the team goal-scoring list with 23 goals. She has six multi-goal games, including her past three.
The Rise of the MPSF: Stanford’s Mountain Pacific Sports Federation is growing in size and stature. Last year, both Stanford and Denver won first-round games in the NCAA tournament, each for the first time. There are now 10 teams in the conference, with the addition of first-year program Colorado. USC is in its second season with lacrosse and San Diego State is in its third.
MPSF Preseason Poll: Stanford was the choice to win the MPSF, as determined by a vote of conference coaches. The Cardinal was the preseason favorite for the fifth consecutive year and seeks to win its ninth MPSF title in 10 years. Stanford received seven of 10 possible first-place votes, with 2013 regular-season champion Denver receiving two and USC, in only its second season, receiving one.
On the Horizon: This is the final week of MPSF regular-season play. Afterward, the top six advance to the MPSF tournament. Stanford already has secured a berth in the tournament, which will take place May 1-4 in Denver.