The Stanford women's lacrosse team fell into hole early and could not recover in a 14-11 loss to Denver in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament championship game Sunday.
No. 20 Stanford (14-4) fell behind by deficits of 5-0 and 9-2 and never was able to draw closer than the final margin. Hannah Farr and Rachel Ozer scored three goals apiece to lead the Cardinal.
Stanford learned later that it received a bid into the NCAA tournament and plays No. 9 Duke (9-7) in the first round Friday at Notre Dame.
The winner plays the winner of High Point (14-5) and Notre Dame (9-8), the No. 8 seed in Sunday's second round.
Stanford beat Notre Dame in the first round last year for its first NCAA victory in school history.
Stanford had played Denver six times in the MPSF tournament, including five times in MPSF tournament, and won every one. But Denver (18-1) ended that streak thanks largely to its fine start. This was in contrast to their previous meeting, on April 4 at Stanford, when Stanford bolted a 6-0 lead in what would be a 13-12 Denver victory.
Ozer broke through for Stanford in the ninth minute. From that point on, Stanford outscored Denver, 11-9. Alexandra Crerend helped give the Cardinal a boost on faceoffs, which helped fuel a 3-0 run that brought Stanford within 9-5, on a goal by Lucy Dikeou with 1:21 left in the first half.
Denver, however, responded with a 3-0 run of its own bridging halftime to retake control of the game.
Katie Wiseman entered at goalie in the 23rd minute and allowed only four goals over the final 37 minutes. Wiseman made seven saves.
Stanford closed out the scoring with a 5-1 run, including a goal by senior Anna Kim, with 3:30 to go.
Farr, the MPSF Player of the Year, had four ground balls and caused two turnovers for the Cardinal. Teammate Adrienne Anderson caused three turnovers.
Dikeou, a Denver native, had two goals, three draw controls, three ground balls, and caused a turnover. Dikeou has seven consecutive multi-goal performances, totaling 21 of her 31 goals in that span.
Tylyn Wells delivered a strong pitching performance and Stanford rallied late but it was not quite enough, as the Cardinal dropped the Pac-12 series finale Sunday at No. 2 UCLA, 5-2.
UCLA's Ally Carda hit a two-run home run in the sixth that secured the win for the Bruins.
Wells (2-4) got the start in the circle for the Cardinal (29-23, 4-17 Pac-12) and was terrific, limiting UCLA to two runs through the first five innings and tying her career high of 5 2/3 innings pitched. She struck out two and permitted four earned runs on six hits and eight walks.
Wells helped her own cause at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two singles. She finished the series at UCLA 5-for-7 (.714) with one walk and one stolen base.
Erin Ashby went 2-for-3 with a walk on the day. She finished the UCLA series 4-for-9 (.444) with a double, two walks and two runs.
Stanford had multiple opportunities to score throughout Sunday's contest but stranded 11 runners, including at least one in every inning.
The Cardinal got off to a strong start when it loaded the bases in the first inning and Cassandra Roulund brought in a run with a sacrifice fly. However, Stanford was unable to capitalize further and settled for an early 1-0 lead.
Stanford returns to conference action Thursday when Oregon State visits for a 7 p.m. start.