With today concluding the regular season for the Cardinal field hockey team, No. 12 Stanford’s preparations will be targeted on the upcoming NorPac Championships, which begin Nov. 7 in Lynchberg, Va. The lose-or-go-home tournament is hosted by Liberty University, which is currently undefeated in the Eastern Division, and will run through Nov. 9.
Stanford is the only top-25 team in the NorPac; however, the Cardinal will have to be prepared for stiff competition.
Finishing first in the West Division, the Cardinal (14-4, 5-1 NorPac), will be facing Davidson (6-11, 2-6) in its first match. Davidson may struggle against the high-powered Stanford offense; the Wildcats have allowed an average of 2.83 goals against this season, putting them in the bottom third of Division I.
Sophomore midfielder Melissa Funsten is the biggest offensive threat for Davidson, with seven goals thus far this season, and senior Tyler McFayden is the Wildcats’ best distributor with seven assists.
Senior Carolyn Macek starts in goal for the Wildcats, and has compiled two shutouts and 62 saves on the season.
Stanford has had excellent NorPac success in the past, winning five of the last six tournaments. Last year’s final was a 3-0 shutout win for the Cardinal against Liberty — a possible rematch this year — in which Stanford punched its ticket to the NCAA Play-In Game in 2012. That matchup pits the NorPac champion against the MAC champion, with the winner of the one-game playoff advancing to the NCAA Tournament.
Optimistically looking beyond the NorPac tournament, Stanford would have a tough road to the NCAA Championship. Poised to strike again, No. 1 Maryland has captured five of the last eight titles.
After a victory against Pacific on Monday’s Senior Night and a 1-0 overtime win in a rivalry match against Cal Thursday afternoon, an emotionally charged Stanford squad will be anxious to head to the East Coast. The fact that the Cardinal has never won the NCAA tournament — and that the NCAA title usually belongs to an East Coast team — only adds to the Cardinal’s passion.
In addition to a phenomenal team effort thus far, three Stanford players were recognized for excellence in Week 9 by NorPac. Kelsey Harbin was recognized for outstanding defensive play in the team’s win against Michigan; Hope Burke was recognized for her game-winning shot against Michigan as well as her offensive potency against Duke; and freshmen Fran Tew was recognized for her tying goal against Michigan. This was the third recognition for each of these players, and the second in a row for Harbin and Tew.
Virginia-bound next week, the Cardinal will be looking to secure another NorPac championship and face the MAC champion for a shot at an NCAA tournament berth.
Contact Carlie Tenenbaum at carliet722 ‘at’ gmail.com.