Stanford's Winding Road to the NCAA Tournament
Hello everyone! Despite the roller coaster we have experienced these past two weeks, I am happy to report that we came out on top of our conference tournament. We won the MPSF by beating Denver 7-6 and clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament!
The roller coaster I was describing began with our 14-13 overtime loss to UC Davis. We had a game plan, and the energy appeared to be up in warmups. However, it was Davis' senior game and they seemed to bring more energy and excitement than us. I think many of us took the game for granted, and Davis took advantage. We failed to realize that the game was going to be the last of their season, and for them their "championship game." That kind of motivation and energy can go a long way for a team, especially when our energy flattened once the first whistle blew. UC Davis played a good game, and definitely taught us a hard lesson that not one game or team can go overlooked. Even though it was a tough loss, I would much rather learn that lesson now rather than when we go to the NCAA tournament.
Two days later, we played Cal in our annual rivalry that this year was titled "Lacrosse the Bay." It's always so much fun to play in a rivalry game, especially one that has such history between the two schools. Last year we won in the last few seconds, and this year we knew the situation would be similar. It was a very exciting game — a little too exciting for my taste, but exciting nonetheless. It again ended with a goal with seven seconds left from teammate Rachel Ozer. What is crazy about this game, and what I love about it, is that even with seven seconds left Cal was still left with an opportunity to shoot. With 0.1 seconds left on the clock, Cal was awarded an 8-meter shot. Definitely one of the more nerve-wracking experiences in my lacrosse career, but one I will not forget. By that time I hadn't played my best, but I knew my team needed me to step up for that one shot. I made the save, and it was a phenomenal feeling knowing I could solidify the win for my team.
The seedings for the MPSF tournament were evident after our win against Cal and USC's win against SDSU. As the number two seed, we would be playing Cal and Denver would be playing USC. We all knew how hard it would be to beat a team twice, especially against a rival school. The coaches prepared an excellent game plan, and we knew we had to execute. From top to bottom, we played a great game. The attack was confident, poised, patient, and used the right opportunities for shots. This game was the best I have seen our attack, just so on point with everything they were doing. On defense, they did a great job of playing great body defense, only allowing one free-position shot. I was so proud of my defense, and so thankful to have them defending in front of me. The final score of the game was 16-6, and we knew we were playing Denver again after losing to them only a month earlier.
The MPSF championship game will always hold a special place in my heart, because it was in this game that I have my favorite lacrosse memory playing for Stanford. As well as the team knew themselves, I knew I had to play at my best in this championship. Before the game started, I remembered what I felt like the championship game two years ago. The game I'm referring to is my freshman year when we played Oregon in the championship. We were losing 7-0 about 15 minutes into the game. Prior to this game, I hadn't gotten real substantial playing time besides when we were winning by a lot because I was the backup to a great senior goalie. However, Amy [coach Amy Bokker] decided to put me in, something clicked, and we pulled off the come back winning the game. It is something I will never forget, and I used the energy and positivity I felt that day to fuel me in the championship against Denver. There were some ups and downs in the game, but we fought hard and came out on top. It feels so great to win another MPSF championship and to get a chance to fight for a national championship.
After the selection show we know we will be facing Notre Dame again, with the potential of another rematch against Northwestern. Looking forward to the week ahead!