#15 Stanford Nips Denver in SV to Take MPSF Crown

DENVER – The No. 18 University of Denver women's lacrosse team took No. 15 Stanford to double overtime, but the Cardinal's Karen Nesbitt scored a sudden victory goal to give Stanford an 11-10 win in the championship game of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship Tournament on Sunday afternoon at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

“I am very proud of how we played against a tough Stanford team,” head coach Liza Kelly said. “We showed a lot of heart and emotion on the field. I am especially proud of our seniors who stepped up and showed their leadership.”

No. 1 seed Denver (13-5) took an early 2-1 lead, but No. 2 seed Stanford (14-5) scored five-straight goals over a nearly 29-minute stretch. Senior Lexi Sanders (Greenwood Village, Colo.), who was held without a point in the first half started a DU rally with an assist on a goal by freshman Bonnie Wells (Adelaide, Australia) and her first goal of the game with 24:21 remaining.

The teams exchanged three goals each, and Stanford held on to a 9-6 lead with 10:11. Denver then went on a tear over the ensuing three minutes with senior Ali Flury (Arnold, Md.), sophomore Becca Steinberg (Millersville, Md.) and 2010 MPSF Newcomer of the Year Kara Secora (Denver, Colo.) all scoring to tie the game.

After a defensive battle through the end of regulation and into the first overtime, Sanders scored her second goal of the game with 2:28 remaining to give the Pioneers their first lead since 8:08 into the contest. With just 28 seconds remaining, Stanford's Lauren Schmidt, the two-time MPSF Player of the Year, tied the game again and forced a second overtime.

The Cardinal won the draw control to start the second overtime, and the Denver defense held firm. Stanford's Christy Stan had the team's only two shots in the overtime period – one high and one saved by DU sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Harman (Boyertown, Pa.) with 19 seconds remaining.

Following Stan's second shot, Denver senior defender Natasha Davies (Annapolis, Md.) hustled to the corner and picked up the groundball, but she immediately ran into a Stanford player and was called for charging. Nesbitt capitalized by sprinting in front of the net and firing a shot past Harman for the game-winner.

In what was likely their final game with the Pioneers, Sanders and Flury once again led Denver, earning spots on the All-Tournament team. Sanders had two goals and three assists against the Cardinal, while Flury recorded a hat trick and an assist.

Flury's hat trick gave her 202 career goals, the most in Denver history, and her 236 points ranks third in the program's record book. Flury scored at least one point in all 69 career games at Denver and had a goal in her final 48 games, both the second longest streaks in the NCAA.

Harman joined Flury and Sanders on the All-Tournament team after tallying 11 saves in the game, equaling that of Stanford goalkeeper Annie Read. Schmidt and Nesbitt both had hat tricks against the Pioneers.

This marks the sixth-straight MPSF Championship Tournament title for the Cardinal, as well as the fourth time in the past five years that Stanford has downed Denver in the championship game. Stanford earns the MPSF's first-ever automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, where the Cardinal will host UMass in a play-in game.

* * * *

Denver, Colo. - It wasn't easy, but Stanford captured its sixth consecutive MPSF conference tournament title with a thrilling, 11-10 overtime win over Denver in the MPSF Championship. The Cardinal battled back from an overtime deficit, before Karen Nesbitt scored the sudden victory goal to give Stanford the victory and the tournament title. The win means Stanford will advance to the NCAA play-in game on Saturday against Massachusetts.

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