No. 16 Stanford field hockey (11-5, 5-1 AEC) ended the regular season with matching 3-2 wins on the road against Big Ten foes No. 13 Northwestern (12-7, 5-3 Big Ten) and No. 37 Michigan State (8-11, 3-5). With a comeback penalty shootout win against the Wildcats on Saturday and a dominant game against the Spartans on Sunday, Stanford heads into postseason play having won 10 of its last 11 contests.
Coming off back-to-back wins last weekend, the Cardinal faced early pressure against a 13th-ranked Wildcats team. Northwestern scored three minutes into the game off a penalty corner to grab a quick lead. This would be the only goal of the half as both defenses played spectacularly, allowing just three cumulative shots on goal.
The Cardinal offense finally broke through in the second half after a barrage of shots in the first 10 minutes of play. In the 47th minute, sophomore defender Emma Christus struck on a penalty corner rebound to knot the score at one and put Stanford on the board. The Wildcats would respond quickly to retake the lead off a goal by junior midfielder Elena Curley.
Trailing by one goal with just over 10 minutes left in the game, Stanford was awarded a penalty stroke, putting the comeback on the stick of senior defender Fran Tew. Last week’s America East Offensive Player of the Week converted on the opportunity, sending the game into overtime.
Stanford’s defense shined in overtime, not allowing a shot over the two periods. However, despite increased pressure and seven shots by the offense, the Cardinal were unable to find the back of the net.
The game would require a shootout.
With the game on the line, Stanford remained strong in the stroke-off. Junior midfielder Millie Stefanowicz and Fran Tew both scored and freshman goalkeeper Kelsey Bing was flawless, allowing Stanford to take the penalty shootout 2-0.
“Today was a great come-from-behind win against a very good Northwestern team,” said head coach Tara Danielson. “I am extremely proud of this Stanford team for their commitment to work for each other to get the result.”
Riding the momentum, Stanford came out strong against Michigan State on Sunday. Senior attacker Kristina Bassi deflected a shot in front to give the Cardinal a 1-0 lead before the game was three minutes old.
Senior midfielder Kendal Anderson, the Spartans’ leading goal-scorer, would respond in the 17th minute with a goal of her own. The offense-heavy half continued when, in the 28th minute, Fran Tew scored on a penalty corner rebound to regain momentum into halftime. This goal came off junior attacker Katie Keyser’s second assist of the game.
The second half remained tight until a 63rd-minute insurance goal by Stanford junior attacker Marissa Cicione. Michigan State then scored off a penalty corner with just over five minutes to play, but Stanford’s defense stayed resilient to hold off the Spartans and secure the win.
After a 1-4 start to the season, Stanford only lost once more during the regular season and improved defensively to establish to a 1.09 goals-against-average, second best in the nation. Relying on stalwart goaltending, strong defense and timely goals, the Cardinal head into postseason play ranked first in their conference.
The America East Conference tournament will begin on Nov. 3 in Stockton, California, with Stanford taking on UMass Lowell at noon.
Contact Laura Anderson at lauraand ‘at’ stanford.edu.