Situated 3,000 miles away on the West Coast of the United States, Amy (Umbach) Bokker’s first season as the head women’s lacrosse coach at Stanford University generated noise across the country.
Bokker, the former Phoenixville Area High School and College of William & Mary star in Virginia, guided the Cardinal to an impressive 14-4 overall record in her first season in California. Previously, she coached George Mason for 11 years and American University for one campaign.
Bokker received special accolades as the conference Coach of the Year while earning her 100th career coaching victory along the trail.
Stanford won its fifth Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title in a row, and the Cardinal closed undefeated in conference action for the first time since 2005. One of Stanford’s victories was an 8-6 verdict over the University of Pennsylvania at Penn when the Quakers were ranked third in the nation in Division I women’s lacrosse.
Yet the Cardinal were denied a bid to the NCAA Tournament, a snub that the coaches and players did not take too kindly. However, if Stanford wins its conference next season, the school will receive an automatic bid to the NCAAs under new guidelines.
Stanford won 10 of its final 12 games with the only losses coming against Maryland and North Carolina, a pair of Final Four contingents. That was why they were particularly miffed at not being invited.
Bokker enjoyed her first season at the helm and just had another great experience by serving as assistant coach of the Canadian team in the recent World Cup games held at Prague, Czech Republic. Canada earned a bronze medal at the Cup games, its first medal in 27 years, by beating England in the finale.
Bokker’s assistant coach, Brooke McKenzie, starred on attack for Canada and was selected as Most Valuable Player against Wales. McKenzie scored a three-goal hat trick in that fray.
The Cardinal thought they had an NCAA berth wrapped up with their record against a rugged schedule that included seven games against teams which were ranked in the IWLCA Top 20. Stanford won three of those seven matchups.
“We were really disappointed about just missing the NCAAs,” said Bokker in a telephone interview earlier this week. “We beat Penn when they were No. 3 and we thought that would solidify us. We were disappointed, but we will come back. Hopefully, that gave us motivation for next year and will burn in our stomach for the future.”
Still, the successful initial season on the West Coast satisfied Bokker.
“For the first year going across the country and not really knowing what to expect, I couldn’t have asked for a better season,” said Bokker. “I was really pleased. It was the most wins Stanford has ever had in a season so it was a great year.”
Stanford established records for goals in a season (264), caused turnovers (200) and ranked in the top 10 in scoring (ninth, 14.67 goals per game) and scoring defense (seventh, 8.83).
The Cardinal tied the school record for wins and winning percentage (14-4, .778) while playing games against three of the four NCAA semifinalists.
Stanford has a national reputation for its high quality academics as well as its athletics. This year’s success should help Bokker as she recruits players for the future.
“The hardest thing is getting them to come out to Stanford because of the distance,” said Bokker. “But once they see the campus, Stanford speaks for itself. The academic criteria are really difficult (for entrance).”
Bokker said she will return to her hometown roots for a lacrosse camp at neighboring Great Valley High School next week. The camp director is Great Valley head coach Joe Tornetta, a Phoenixville Area High School product and Kimberton resident.