Oregon lacrosse can’t capitalize on seven-goal lead, falls to Stanford

The Oregon lacrosse team quickly became the talk of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament after upsetting No. 2-seeded Denver on Friday, but the team failed to capitalize after scoring the first seven goals of the championship game, narrowly missing its first-ever NCAA tournament bid.

In the opening round, Oregon (8-9) stuffed Denver’s offense from all angles. The Ducks notched the last three goals of the first half to gain an edge and only extended that advantage in the second. When the dust settled, the Ducks won 7-4. The four goals given up marked the lowest offensive production by an Oregon opponent this season.

At No. 6 in the country, Stanford (16-2) entered play as the tournament’s top seed and winner of the last seven MPSF conference titles. The Ducks came closer to upsetting the Cardinal than any other MPSF team, fueled by a 7-0 run to kick off the game. Four Ducks notched three points, including senior midfielder Alex Breiner, who now sits in third on the all-time Oregon leaderboard with 181 career points (combined goals and assists). From the opening draw, Ducks head coach Jen Larsen saw that her team had come to play.

“I think we surprised them out of the gate,” Larsen said. “They were really fired up and had a lot of confidence and wanted to get that great start.”

It took 15 minutes for the Cardinal to find the back of the net. Its offense rejuvenated, the MPSF juggernaut went on to score four consecutive goals and trim the deficit to three.

Compounding the Ducks’ troubles, a Stanford timeout midway through the first half allowed Cardinal freshman goalkeeper Lyndsey Munoz to take the net. With very little information on the tendencies of the new keeper, Oregon was unable to solve the puzzle.

Larsen was all too aware that the No. 6 team in the nation would take advantage of any mistakes her team made.

“We got a little bit tired and we didn’t take care of the ball,” Larsen said. “It was a little disappointing to have a lot of turnovers and it was a real deflator.”

The last two-thirds of the match was a 12-3 Stanford run en route to a 12-10 Cardinal win. Despite making its first trip to an MPSF final and coming close to an automatic NCAA tournament bid, the Ducks left Moraga, Calif., on Sunday with more questions than answers.

“We weren’t able to dig our heels in and be smarter with what we were doing,” Larsen said.

Breiner lead the team with a 64-point season, and the senior joined freshman goalkeeper Caroline Federighi, as well as junior Jess Drummond, on the All-MPSF Tournament team.

The freshman goalkeeper had spent most of the season splitting time in net, but elevated her game with nine saves against Denver and 15 against Stanford. Midfielder Jana Drummond touched on Federighi’s tournament achievement after Sunday’s loss.

“She was unbelievable,” Drummond said. “We couldn’t have done it without her.”

The Ducks improved on a 2010 season in which they went 7-11. Oregon’s 4-2 mark in the MPSF boosted them into the four-team postseason tournament. However, it will be hard for the team to look at its campaign and not think about what could have been. Of the nine losses, four were by two goals or less against ranked opponents. Of these games which didn’t go Oregon’s way, Drummond reflected that it was the last that may be the toughest to swallow.

“It just hurts because it was 7-0,” Drummond said. “This feeling won’t go away.”

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