Photo: Daily Emerald.com
Denver women’s lacrosse (#5, 5-4 MPSF) traveled to Eugene, Oregon and downed the the Oregon Ducks (#6, 4-4 MPFS) 11-9 to earn an automatic berth at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation playoffs in Stanford, California April 28th – May 1st. The increasingly dangerous Pioneers finished their league season by winning 3 in a row. The final remaining league games will determine seeding for the tournament.
Goalie Maddy Stevens made 7 saves (.438) and gave up nine goals in the big win. In the draw control circle, Ellie Knott won 10 draws and the Pioneers were 14-of-22 on total draws. Nearly all the other statistics were even except for goals, of course.
DU struck first with the games first two goals. Nicole Martindale assisted Elizebeth Behrins in the game’s first point. Martindale found the net on the game’s second point. Oregon countered at 23:18 but a minute later Christa Reece countered with a goal to make it 3-1, DU. Oregon dcored the next two goals to knot the game at 3. However, DU reeled off two goals in the final five minutes by Elizebeth Behrins and Riley Eggeman to up the DU advantage to 5-3 at half.
At 28:25 of the second half, Christa Reece drew first blood and three minutes later Oregon’s Holly Johnson scored to make the score 6-4. After 7 minutes with no scoring, DU went on a 3 goal scoring binge in a minute and fifteen seconds with two goals by Kendra Lanuza and another goal by Nicole Martindale. Two minutes later the Ducks found the back of the net but two minutes later Christa Reece struck again to up the score to 10-5, DU. In the final ten minutes Oregon made a push with 3 straight goals. The run was stopped when DU’s Caitlin Derry found pay dirt at 5:54 to take DU to 11. Oregon scored the final goal at 2:22 to make it 11-9 and DU held on to the 2-goal margin to end the game.
If the standings remain unchanged, DU will be facing the #2 seed Stanford Cardinal (7-1 MPSF) in the semifinals, a long time Pioneer rival in Palo Alto, California. The quarterfinals would likely be against Colorado. If DU can make it past Colorado in the quarterfinals, Stanford would appear to have the edge, especially with home field and a 9-5 victory in Denver April 1st. However, DU has turned their season around over the last several weeks with the return of Nicole Martindale, increased scoring from Christa Reece and improved team defense and goalkeeping. Don’t be surprised if these Pioneers give the Cardinal all they can handle in round one of the MPSF Tournament. This is a far different team than they faced three weeks ago.