“We’re kind of bubbling on the surface and we’re ready now… There’s no other journey this team could have gone on,” said Stanford field hockey head coach Tara Danielson after the final match of the regular season.
On Sunday afternoon, the No. 18 Cardinal (13-7, 4-2 America East) finished their America East Conference journey by defending their championship title, downing New Hampshire (10-11, 4-4) 4-1 in Lowell, Massachusetts. Four different Cardinal players scored in a dominant first half, which included two goals in the opening 10 minutes.
Freshman attacker Corinne Zanolli started the barrage early, earning her team-leading 15th goal of the year off a penalty corner pass from freshman midfielder Frances Carstens. Less than five minutes later, senior attacker Marissa Cicione put in a diving reverse shot on a breakaway to bring the score to 2-0. Cicione, who broke out offensively in her senior season, scored a goal in all three matches of the America East tournament.
Carstens continued the strong half in the 19th minute when she collected a pass from tournament MVP Sarah Helgeson for a goal. Sophomore attacker Jessica Welch added her first goal of the season off a pass from Cicione in the 30th minute to send Stanford into halftime with a 4-0 lead.
The Wildcats came out with intensity in the second, pouring on 18 shots to Stanford’s three. Sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Bing showed her consistency in the cage, turning away the New Hampshire offense and preserving the Cardinal lead. UNH broke through as time expired, with senior Ashley Mendonca putting a penalty corner shot past senior goalkeeper Maddy Belin.
With the championship win, the Cardinal completed a tournament journey that required a dramatic comeback against No. 24 Pacific (10-9, 4-2) on Saturday.
An overtime goal by Cicione capped the come-from-behind victory on Saturday afternoon, as Stanford and Pacific delivered yet another one-goal thriller. The two teams were evenly matched in the first half, with the Tigers claiming a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute off a rebound goal from junior Kriekie van Wyk. In the second half, Pacific added to its lead with a goal from senior Alicia Muiños.
“I think in the second half we came together as a team,” said Danielson. “We said at the half that we were going to need three goals to win this game, and the team delivered under pressure.”
One minute after the Muiños strike, freshman defender Sarah Johnson found senior attacker Kristina Bassi for a one-timer. The Cardinal then tied the game up with a penalty corner goal by Carstens.
With the championship at stake, Cicione ensured that Stanford’s journey was not over, taking a pass from Zanolli to put in the game-winning strike.
The conference win also secured a NCAA Tournament berth for the team’s fourth consecutive year. Stanford will continue its journey in the postseason after the Sunday night selection show.
Contact Laura Anderson at lauraand ‘at’ stanford.edu.