Needing a win to clinch the number-one seed in the West Division of the America East Conference, No. 18 Stanford women’s field hockey (10-7, 4-2 America East) produced a dominant performance against UC Davis (1-16, 0-6) on Saturday’s senior night. In their final regular season home game, senior attackers Marissa Cicione and Kristina Bassi led the Cardinal offense to a 6-2 victory, the most goals Stanford has scored in a single game this season.
“It was a senior game, but it was also the last game to clinch the number-one spot for the conference,” head coach Tara Danielson said. “I think the team was really intentional about why we’re here and what we’re doing and how we need to go about it.”
The Cardinal came out with a strong attack, outshooting the Aggies 13-2 in the first half while keeping possession for most of the period. Before the match was two minutes old, Bassi delivered a cross to Cicione, who one-touched the ball to the left corner. The duo connected again just 25 seconds later when Cicione led the attack to send a pass to Bassi for a tip-in goal.
“Coming out hard puts the opponent’s’ confidence down right at the beginning of the game,” Cicione said. “Immediately, we have so much momentum and generate a lot of attack.”
On its first drive of the game, UC Davis tipped the ball into the circle, which was collected for a goal by Aggie midfielder Emily Chen on senior goalkeeper Maddy Belin. Belin started her first career game on her senior night, eventually earning the complete-game win.
In the 22nd minute, Cicione fought the ball off a defender and sent in a cross to Bassi for the goal to bring the lead to 3-1. On the strong start from the Cardinal upperclassmen, Cicione spoke to the significance of senior night. “I think all of the seniors wanted to go out with a bang, and I think we all left it all on the field,” she said.
Soon after, freshman attacker Corinne Zanolli struck on a penalty stroke to score her team-leading 12th goal of the season. The opportunity was Stanford’s first penalty stroke of the season. Cicione kept piling on a minute later, earning her second goal of the night off a left side cross from Bassi.
Despite a comfortable 5-1 lead, Stanford came out just as aggressively on offense in the second half. In the 40th minute, freshman defender Sarah Johnson took a pass from Zanolli on a penalty corner to put in her fourth goal of the season. The Cardinal let another goal from Chen slip through with less than one minute left in the match, but the dominant offensive performance ensured the victory and the number-one seed.
“I think the team has been slowly putting pieces together with combination play over the season, and now they’re starting to put a full game together,” Danielson said. “We’re kind of bubbling on the surface, and we’re ready now. I think we’re right at the right place.”
Boasting the number-one seed in the America East Conference tournament, Stanford looks to defend its 2016 conference title in Lowell, Massachusetts next week. The Cardinal will take on UMass Lowell on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.
Contact Laura Anderson at lauraand ‘at’ stanford.edu.