SAN DIEGO -- Stanford faces a challenging weekend as it seeks to secure a No. 2 seed and a first-round bye for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament. The Cardinal must do so against two of the MPSF’s up-and-coming programs, third-year SDSU and second-year USC. Stanford (11-2 overall, 5-1 MPSF) is alive for the No. 1 seed, but would need two Denver losses in two games for that to happen.
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The following is a closer look at Friday’s game:
Who: No. 13 Stanford (11-2, 5-1) vs. San Diego State (6-7, 3-3)
When: Friday, 2 p.m. PT
Where: SDSU Sports Deck; San Diego, Calif.
All-Time Series Record: Stanford leads, 2-0
Live Stats: Click here
Webcast: Click here
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The following is a closer look at Sunday’s game:
Who: Stanford vs. USC (7-6, 5-2)
When: Sunday, 1 p.m. PT
Where: SDSU Sports Deck; Los Angeles, Calif.
All-Time Series Record: Stanford leads, 1-0
Live Stats: Click here
TV: The game will be aired live on the Pac-12 Networks
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Week in Review: Stanford is coming off an 18-6 victory over visiting UC Davis. It was the third consecutive victory by at least eight goals by Stanford. The UC Davis contest was the first of three in a six-day period that continues in San Diego and USC. Against UC Davis, eight Stanford players scored two goals apiece to lead the Cardinal attack. The Cardinal built an 8-1 lead in the first 12 minutes.
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. 13 (No. 12 last week)
Brine media poll: No. 9 (No. 9)
Lacrosse Magazine: No. 12 (No. 13)
Lax Power computer: No. 16 (No. 17)
RPI: No. 13 (No. 13)
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Friday’s Opponent, San Diego State: The Aztecs are in sixth place, occupying the final spot in the MPSF tournament. San Diego State (6-7, 3-3) is coming off a pair of narrow road losses last weekend, losing to MPSF leader Denver, 12-11, allowing two goals in the final 21 seconds, including the winner with two seconds left. The Aztecs followed with a 7-6 sudden-victory overtime loss at Colorado. Christina Ricciardulli is the reigning MPSF Defensive Player of the Week. She caused six Denver turnovers, had five draw controls and four groundballs. Against Colorado, she scored with 55 seconds left to force overtime. Michaela Jarvis has a team-leading 34 points, on 18 goals and 16 assists.
The Stanford-SDSU Series: Stanford leads the all-time series, 2-0, with both games being played at Stanford. This will be their first meeting on Montezuma Mesa. Their most recent meeting, a 23-16 victory on April 21, 2013, is notable because it tied Stanford’s single-game record for goals scored. Rachel Ozer scored four goals, and Hannah Farr, Julia Burns, and Lucy Dikeou scored three apiece. The 23 goals tied the Cardinal’s total in a 23-8 victory over Catholic on March 26, 1998. Stanford beat SDSU, 17-11, in their first meeting, in 2012.
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Sunday’s Opponent, USC: The Trojans (7-6, 5-2) come into the weekend, which begins with a Friday game against visiting Oregon, with a chance to vault all the way to the No. 2 seed for the MPSF tournament. If USC beats the MPSF’s second- and third-place teams in its final two regular-season games, the Trojans will clinch third. And, if Colorado loses at least one of its two remaining conference games (against visiting California and at Oregon), then USC can jump to second and earn a bye into MPSF semifinals. Perhaps topportunity is not surprising for the second-year program. USC, after all, was the preseason coaches’ choice to finish third in the MPSF, and even received a first-place vote.
The Stanford-USC Series: The teams have played once, with Stanford earning a 17-11 home victory on March 8, 2013. Anna Kim and Julia Burns scored four goals apiece for the Cardinal.
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Best Starts: This season marked the second-best 13-game record in school history. At 11-2, only the 12-1 start of the 2011 team is superior. The 2011 team began 8-0, which is the best unbeaten start in school history, and continued to go 14-1 for the best opening stretch with ony one loss. That team, which includes the current senior class, went undefeated in MPSF play, and won the MPSF tournament before losing to Florida, 13-11, in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It finished a program-record 16-3.
MPSF Race: Denver (7-0) can wrap up its second consecutive MPSF regular-season title and No. 1 seed by winning either of its final two conference games -- against visiting California on Friday or at Oregon on April 25. The MPSF tournament will be held at Denver on May 1-4. Stanford (5-1) is in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 seed and a bye into the tournament semifinals, if it wins its final three games, beginning Friday at San Diego State. Oregon (4-1) is tied with Stanford for second in the loss column, but has tough games ahead, against USC, San Diego State, Denver, and Colorado.
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Scoring Streak: Lucy Dikeou has scored 10 goals in her past three games. She has 11 in her previous eight games and she has scored at least a point in all 11 games that she has played. Dikeou’s streak: four against Notre Dame, three against Denver, and four against Oregon. She did not play against Colorado or UC Davis during that stretch.
Tewaaraton Watch List: Stanford has 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. Farr was added two weeks ago, while Dikeou and Ozer were part of the original list, which numbers 53. The list will be expanded April 10 and then be cut to 25 on April 24. 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 seven games this year, and has a 5-2 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 3-1.
• When trailing with 10:00 left in the 2nd half: 2-1.
• In games when trailing by two or more: 3-0.
• 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 2-1: beating current No. 16 Ohio State, 11-9, in the season opener, beating now-No. 9 Notre Dame and losing to current-No. 20 Denver, 13-12. Against all five teams that have been ranked in the Top 20, Stanford is 4-1.
Conference Rankings: The following are Stanford’s top rankings as a team and individual in the MPSF statistical rankings:
Goals Per Game, 13.50 (2nd)
Ground Balls Per Game, 17.83 (2nd)
Draw Controls Per Game, 13.33 (2nd)
Shots Per Game, 28.33 (2nd)
Points Per Game, 18.67 (2nd)
Shot Percentage, .478 (2nd)
Shots on Goal Per Game, 21.92 (2nd)
Game-Winning Goals, Hannah Farr, 0.33 (1st)
Ground Balls Per Game, Megan Lerner, 2.33 (3rd)
Free-Position Goals Per Game, Hannah Farr, 0.75 (3rd)
Goals Against Average, Lyndsey Munoz, 8.89 (4th)
Caused Turnovers Per Game, Lucy Dikeou, 1.45 (4th)
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 (134). 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 (88) 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 the lacrosse team’s goal-scoring leader, with 23 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 13 games of her brief collegiate career, but she has scored goals in 12 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 19 goals. She has four multi-goal games.
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: After this weekend, Stanford has one more regular-season game, on Thursday against visiting California in a 4 p.m. contest televised by the Pac-12 Networks. The MPSF tournament is next, on May 1-4 in Denver.