In recent years, women’s field hockey coach Tara Danielson has made a commitment to scheduling more competitive games. That effort was evident this weekend when the Cardinal faced top-ranked Syracuse on Friday and the nation’s sole unbeaten team, No. 4 Connecticut, on Sunday. Stanford lost both matches but hoped to benefit from the experience of facing the country’s best teams before its return to the Farm.
“We humbly know these teams are very good. Both Syracuse and Connecticut have legacies over the past decade,” Danielson told GoStanford.com before the weekend. “But it’s an opportunity for us to rise and start to play Stanford’s brand of hockey, which the girls have been working on diligently for the last year and a half. That’s what we are most excited about.”
On Friday afternoon, Stanford traveled to Amherst, Mass., to take on Syracuse. This was the third time this year that the Cardinal has played the nation’s No. 1 team, although the third different team it played with that distinction. Earlier in the season, Stanford lost to both Maryland and North Carolina when each team held the top ranking. Unfortunately for the Card, the third time did not prove the charm, as they fell to the Orange 4-1.
For most of the afternoon, the game was tighter than the final score line would show. Twelve minutes into the game, Stanford took a 1-0 lead. The Cardinal was awarded a penalty corner after a Syracuse foul in the circle. Junior midfielder Elise Ogle played the ball in to sophomore midfielder Shannon Herold, who moved it to defender Becky Dru. The senior captain pushed the ball past Syracuse goalkeeper Leann Stiver for her seventh goal of the season and fifth in three games.
The Orange equalized on a great individual effort by forward Alyssa Manley in the 27th minute. The game remained tied until the 56th minute, when Syracuse was awarded a penalty corner. Cardinal goalkeeper Dulcie Davies, who had five saves on the day, blocked the first shot, but on the ensuing play, Orange forward Kelsey Millman directed the ball past Davies to take the lead. Millman added her second goal of the game just five minutes later when she scored from close range to extend the lead to 3-1. Manley put in another in the 67th minute to close out the scoring.
Stanford then traveled south to play at the University of Connecticut on Sunday. In a defensive battle, the Huskies recorded a 1-0 win to keep their undefeated season alive. Stanford is now 0-4 all-time against the Huskies.
UConn thought it had scored the game’s first goal midway through the first half, but the referees ruled that the ball had hit the foot of a UConn player and disallowed the goal.
Davies and the Cardinal defense stood firm until five minutes into the second half, when UConn forward Marie Elena Bolles dribbled down the field and passed to a wide-open Sophie Bowden in front of the cage. Bowden slipped the ball past Davies to give UConn the lead.
Although the Cardinal took seven shots on the day, only one was on target. That was not enough to solve UConn All-American goalkeeper Sarah Mansfield, who recorded her sixth shutout of the year. Davies made two saves in the Cardinal net to keep the game close.
The tough road trip concludes Stanford’s nonconference schedule. The second half of NorPac play begins this Friday when Stanford faces Pacific at 4 p.m. at home. The Cardinal is currently 3-0 in conference, including a 4-1 win over the Tigers on Oct. 7, and will likely need to finish first or second in the league to secure a berth in the NCAA tournament.