Playing against two conference opponents, No. 17 Stanford field hockey (9-7, 3-2 America East) dropped an away match against Pacific (8-7, 4-2) on Friday, before coming home to defeat rival Cal (9-7, 4-2) on Sunday.
Pacific claimed an early lead which it never relinquished. Just 28 seconds into the match, Pacific’s Alicia Muinos scored off a screen in the first drive of the game. The Tigers added another in the 34th minute, heading into halftime leading by two.
Stanford entered the second half with a marked change in intensity, firing eight shots to Pacific’s three in the frame while pressuring the Tigers in the offensive zone. Pacific was able to hold off the attack until the final corner opportunity of the game. As time expired, freshman attacker Corinne Zanolli put in her team-leading 10th goal of the season.
While the late goal did not change the game’s result, head coach Tara Danielson was impressed by the team’s play in the second, “I’ll take our second half effort any day,” she said. “The way the strikers played in the second half influenced the backfield to play with confidence and aggression.”
Facing Cal on Sunday, Danielson and the Cardinal had one goal: “This Stanford team needs to be persistent and tenacious…we need to burn with purpose and play for the team.”
Stanford displayed persistence in the first half against the Golden Bears. The Cardinal were on attack for nearly the entire frame, outshooting Cal 10-2. In the 19th minute, fifth-year senior attacker Kristina Bassi gave Stanford an early lead off a cross from sophomore midfielder Phoebe Crosthwaite.
“Major props to [Crosthwaite] who set me up,” Bassi said. “She’s so fast that she just beat the defender with speed. I just popped in front of my defender and laid my stick on the ground. She put it right on my stick.”
Riding the momentum, Zanolli carried the ball into the circle soon after and delivered a strong shot to make the lead 2-0. Another goal by Bassi assisted from freshman midfielder Frances Carstens just before halftime gave Stanford a three-goal lead heading into the break.
Stanford played shutdown defense in the second half, with sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Bing, who claimed her 10th career shutout, remaining consistent as Cal poured on six shots. To seal the match, Bassi scored again in the 53rd minute, the first hat trick of her career. Bassi, who has typically been more of a transition player, currently sits second in team goals with eight on the season.
“[Kristina Bassi] came out with great leadership,” Danielson said. “Not only did she get three goals but she played purposefully. It’s ironic that she scored a hat trick because it was how she defended that really was the difference maker to the team. We kid with her all the time that she’s part-player and part-coach because she comes out with a sense of understanding and maturity. The team responded with a lot of energy.”
Team energy was key to the match, as the Cardinal performed much better than they did in last week’s 4-2 away loss against this same Cal team.
“We had to come out with more energy, more will and more tenacity than the other team,” Bassi said. “We had something to prove from last week and we have something to prove going into playoffs. We want to have that energy and build on this weekend from here on out.”
The seeding for the America East Conference tournament will be tight, as Stanford, Cal and Pacific have all split season series. The Cardinal will play their final regular season match against conference opponent UC Davis next Saturday.
“I think the season for us has been a journey,” Danielson commented. “I tell the team all the time, it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about winning or learning. We’re at the point where we’ve had enough learning that we can start using those learning experiences to our benefit. It takes us in a very experienced, motivated position into the tournament.”
Contact Laura Anderson at lauraand ‘at’ stanford.edu.