Ups and Downs of Stanford's Stars & Stripes Weekend
This week has been so busy but also so much fun! The Stars & Stripes event was such a great experience, and it was great to be able to host the event in California. Since lacrosse is still growing out in the west, it was exciting to attract attention to the sport of lacrosse and, of course, Stanford lacrosse as well.
Wednesday was our first game against England. Everyone was feeling a little anxious before this game. Not only was it our first game of the fall, but also for the freshmen it was their first college game. We came out with tons of energy and went up 4-0 early in the game. England had a lot of speed, they were very shifty behind the cage, and for me it was difficult to read their shots because they threw less fakes and had a much quicker release. We ended up losing the game 12-8, but it was most definitely a hard-fought game. There were some little mistakes that we made that I would attribute to the nerves, but I think had those not been made we would have been closer to winning. Considering at this point we had only had about six practices, it was a very good showing by our team.
Right after we played England, we played Rikkyo University from Japan. Unfortunately this year when we aren't in our actual season we are not allowed to miss class, so I couldn't play in this game due to a class conflict. However, I sprinted back and made it in time for the last 15 minutes of the game. From what I saw, it looked like the team had already made some improvements considering the score was something like 15-2. It was a good way to end the day on a positive note, and to see what we needed to work on going into Friday's game against Australia.
Australia was an interesting game for me, because I let something affect my game that I usually don't—my head. Like most players, I hold myself to very high standards. Without making a single save in the first half, I was getting very frustrated with the defense and my playing. However, I am actually happy that coach Amy Bokker pulled me out to collect myself. I was rationally able to think to myself that this is the Australian national team, and you really shouldn't save anything with their skill-set. Also I reminded myself we've been practicing for a week, and it's no surprise that all the pieces aren't fitting together just yet. In the second half I went in the game with an extremely clear head, and I just played. As a defense we communicated a lot better, allowing the defenders to put the attackers in a position that we wanted which in turn allowed me to make more saves. I'm unsure of the amount of saves, but to only allow two goals on the Australian team is a pretty tough thing to do. I'm really happy that this happened this early, so I can reflect on this game if I ever get frustrated again. We only lost the game by one, which was really exciting moving forward to Sunday's game against USA.
USA was actually interesting as well, but in a different way. Coach Bokker was fulfilling her role as assistant coach to Team USA, so we were without her. We were also without our assistant coach Lauren Schwarzmann, because she is on Team USA and was playing against us. On another note, our former assistant Danielle Spencer is on Team USA and was playing against us as well. All of our draw takers were going against her just like they had done a hundred times last year in practice but this time they were on competing teams. It was kind of awkward, because I was slightly happy when assistant coach Lauren Schwarzmann made a good play but at the same time it wasn't because that meant Team USA was coming back on offense.
It was a great learning experience to see what it takes to play on that level, and playing against that level. Our defenses and our defensive rides are similar, obviously with Amy being the defensive assistant for Team USA. Our team was able to see at what pace and intensity different parts of our game need to be at in order to be near perfection. Despite the score, I felt that we kept up great energy levels, and kept fighting throughout the game. We are all looking forward to taking on more teams at the collegiate level next weekend at Navy and Georgetown.