The red hot DU women’s lax team is headed to Palo Alto, California with the wind at their backs to begin the MPSF playoffs Thursday night. The Pioneers (8-8, 5-4 MPSF) received yet another break when they moved up to the 5th seed, avoiding a first round showdown with #3 Colorado and then, tournament host – #2 Stanford.
As recently as early April, most fans were eyeing next season when a talented incoming freshman class of women’s lacrosse players hits the DU campus. The Pios were 1-3 in conference play and struggling to string wins together.
But this year’s squad isn’t willing to ‘wait until next year.’
Fueled by the return of Nicole Martindale and her physical play and timely goals, senior Christa Reece’s increased scoring output, improved defense, and surging confidence, the team went on to win four out of their last five games – crowned by a road win against Oregon in Eugene to end conference play. Their only loss during that stretch came at the hands of undefeated USC in Denver in a close 9-6 contest on April 10th.
The Pioneers are now the team nobody wants to play. They are loose and getting better every game.
#4 seed UC-Davis is a perfect first round opponent for DU to continue their momentum. UC-Davis has lost three of their last five games and were demolished 14-4 by USC in their last game. DU dropped an early April game 13-6 at UC-Davis but that was before their current run. That game was Martindale’s second game back when she was working her way onto the field. The team has improved at both ends of the field since then. If DU can advance, they will face undefeated USC (17-0, 9-0 MPSF) in the semis and, likely, three-loss Stanford (13-3, 8-1 MPSF) in the finals should they complete the upset. With the tandem of Reece and Martindale triggering a resurgent offense, they can hang with either of these teams.
The team’s confidence shows on the bench with orchestrated celebrations, similar to those of Monmouth basketball. Benches on the women’s lax have always been loud and celebratory- just not orchestrated. While some fans may see this as ‘over the top,’ it is another sign of growing confidence and unity. They have pulled together and rebounded from early season disappointment. They are loose and buoyed by a growing belief in their chances. If it works and sparks the team, why not?
After a season of ups and downs, they are peaking at the right time. A month ago, this run was improbable. But now? #WhyNotDUWLAX?