March 2020 edition of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don’t get the mag? Head to to subscribe.

When Sarah Jaques texted her Darien (Conn.) High School girls’ lacrosse teammate Ashley Humphrey last summer, there was a sense of dread.

"> Cardinal Call: Stanford Bound Stars Ready to Lead Darien Girls' Lacrosse | USA Lacrosse Magazine

Sarah Jacques (left) and Ashley Humphrey are both top 10 recruits heading to Stanford after this season at Darien (Conn.).

Cardinal Call: Stanford Bound Stars Ready to Lead Darien Girls' Lacrosse

This article appears in the March 2020 edition of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don’t get the mag? Head to to subscribe.

When Sarah Jaques texted her Darien (Conn.) High School girls’ lacrosse teammate Ashley Humphrey last summer, there was a sense of dread.

Jaques wanted to talk to Humphrey immediately. Humphrey admitted she was apprehensive. Heck, she was terrified. What could be so urgent?

“I thought I had done something wrong,” Humphrey said. “I was so scared. I had no idea what was going on.

“And her first question was, ‘Would you mind if I went to Stanford?’ I wanted to slap her and say, ‘Are you kidding me? Go there!’ When she committed, I was so happy. I am really excited because we play really well together. We can definitely develop something with the Stanford program.”

And now the Darien teammates, two of the top recruits in the 2020 class, are headed to Palo Alto, Calif., the gems of coach Danielle Spencer’s first recruiting class. Humphrey and Jaques are among a growing number of players who are headed to the West Coast to blaze a new lacrosse trail. Top players from the East Coast are taking their talents to places like Palo Alto, Eugene, Boulder, Berkeley, Tempe and Los Angeles.

“They have incredible chemistry together,” Darien coach Lisa Lindley said. “They have one more season with me, and I expect big things from them. For Stanford to get two blue-chip athletes like that, it’s really going to catapult their program.”

Jaques, a right-handed high-side attacker, finished her junior season with 84 goals, 30 assists, 25 ground balls and 50 draw controls. Humphrey, the quarterback of the Darien offense from the X position behind the net, recorded 63 goals, 66 assists and 15 ground balls.

The allure of Stanford was too much to resist, according to Humphrey and Jaques. The school has a national reputation for both its academics and athletics. It’s the “Home of Champions,” with more than 100 national championships across a wide range of sports and hundreds of Olympic medalists.

“I love that,” Jacques said. “Darien is kind of the dynasty in Fairfield County. We’re expected to win everything. That’s the tradition. Being able to continue that at Stanford, I’m really looking forward to that.”

Humphrey, who committed to Stanford as a sophomore, echoed those sentiments. She’s excited to forge a new path.

“There is a wow factor about Stanford that I wasn’t sensing at the other schools,” Humphrey said.

Humphrey and Jaques have been inseparable both on and off the field since third grade.

“I’m excited to have a plane buddy,” Humphrey said. “I won’t have to fly alone ever.” 

“The weather in California is awesome. Here, it’s snowing and I go outside and my hands are freezing, my hands are cracking,” Jaques said. “There, I’m tan and enjoying it.”

“With so much unfamiliarity in college, it’s going to be nice to have her,” Humphrey said.

Moving 3,000 miles away from home might terrify most teenagers, but those are precisely the type of players that Spencer wants in her program. Spencer experienced something similar when she left her suburban Rochester, N.Y., home and headed to Northwestern outside Chicago. She was part of three NCAA championship teams during her four-year career in Evanston.

“It just opened up my whole world, truly, living in Chicago,” Spencer said. “Had I not gone to Northwestern or had I not been a lacrosse player, I would’ve gone to a SUNY (State University of New York) school and stayed local to my family. But having gone away for college, it changed everything for me. I saw the world in a different way. I was more a brave and confident person. It just expanded my whole world. I can relate to that experience, taking a leap of faith.”

Spencer took over the Cardinal program in July 2019 after a successful three-year run in the Ivy League at Dartmouth and four years as an assistant at her alma mater Northwestern. Luring players like Jaques and Humphrey to California will create a ripple effect, she said.

“We’ve created a little bit of curiosity and momentum about the future of the program,” Spencer said. “As I’ve told Sarah and Ashley and some of the other recruits coming in, we just need a couple brave young women to take a calculated, educated risk. Right now, we’re top 20 or 25. We’re not top five yet. It starts with me believing in the program, and it starts with a couple players believing in me.”

Recruiting and scheduling are the two biggest keys, Spencer said. “We have to be relevant to the best lacrosse players in the country,” she said.

Lindley said Stanford is getting two of the best players she’s ever coached. Humphrey is a great feeder with incredible vision and lacrosse IQ. “She’s thinking two or three plays ahead,” Lindley said.

Jaques is the quintessential finisher. She’ll shift to the midfield this season, “just because she has such an impact all over the field, and she’s one of my best players. We need her around the ball more often than not,” Lindley said.

Lindley, who is entering her 26th season, has guided the Blue Wave to 17 state championships. But Darien has never ended the season undefeated during Lindley’s tenure.

“I want to give Lisa her first undefeated season,” Humphrey said. “She has come so close, so many times. We have the talent and capability to handle those situations this year.”

To view more high school content, head to For the Nike/US Lacrosse High School Girls' Preseason National Top 25, click here. To see who made the list of 25 high school girls' lacrosse players to watch, click here.