2023 Women's Top 30: How Stanford Fared vs. Projections
Before USA Lacrosse Magazine looks ahead to what’s to come in 2024, our team of staff and contributors decided it was worth taking one last look at 2023.
After all, you have to look at the most recent results before making projections for what’s to come. To do that, we’re taking a journey through the top 30 teams in men’s and women’s lacrosse — what went right, what went wrong and what we should all think of that team’s season.
Was it a success? A failure? A mixture of both? You’ll find out our thoughts over the next month or so.
STANFORD WOMEN’S LACROSSE
Nike/USA Lacrosse Preseason/Final Top 20 Ranking: 9/Unranked
2023 record: 10-8 (8-2 Pac-12)
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Stanford was excellent in the Pac-12 during the regular season, with two close losses to Colorado and USC representing the only blemishes on their conference record. One of their two non-conference wins — a 21-20 slugfest against Albany on March 12 — looks good in hindsight because Albany made a little noise in the NCAA tournament. Annabel Frist was a star in her sophomore season, leading Stanford with 50 goals and 138 draw controls, sometimes singlehandedly willing the Cardinal. Stanford also got a breakout season from redshirt-sophomore Sarah Jacques, once a top recruit. She produced 37 goals and 29 assists.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Hyped up entering the regular season, Stanford at times looked, well, flat. That wasn’t expected after a big season in 2022, and while the offense put up decent numbers against the Pac-12, it didn’t show up against ranked opponents outside the conference. In games against Virginia, Jacksonville, Stony Brook, Northwestern and Denver, Stanford went 0-5 and scored only 9.8 goals per game. To make matters worse, that ugly non-conference mark meant winning the Pac-12 tournament would likely be Stanford’s only entryway into the NCAA tournament. The Cardinal proceeded to score just 11 in a 12-11 loss to Colorado in the semifinals.
As zany as it was, Stanford showed a fair bit of resolve in that 21-20 win over Albany. The Cardinal trailed 17-16 after three quarters, and Jacques put her side up 21-20 with 5:49 to play. Perhaps even more impressive than the comeback was that Stanford then managed to hold Albany scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Stanford enjoyed significant growth from players like Frist and Jacques, but the overall product faltered. It mostly dominated Western competition, but for Stanford to truly take the next step, it needs to start picking off ranked teams out of conference with more regularity.