By Arman Kassam
This past Friday, No. 21 Stanford field hockey (13-5, 5-1 America East) lost 2-1 to Pacific (10-7, 4-1) at Varsity Turf in the final game of the regular season. The Cardinal have had quite the run against the Tigers so far, beating them 2-1 back in September and 4-2 in mid-October.
In their most recent victory against the Tigers, the Cardinal dominated their opponents with deadly accuracy, scoring four goals after only five shots on goal. The Tigers could not keep up in that bout, scoring two goals after 15 shots on goal. Past precedent supported a Stanford victory in last Friday’s game, and on top of their perfect record against the Tigers this season, the Cardinal were just coming off of a five-game winning streak.
The roles were reversed this past Friday. It was Stanford that took 15 shots but only put one in the net; the Tigers prevailed with nine shots and two goals. Right from the start of the match, Pacific senior attacker Rylee Comeau gave the Tigers an early lead after an assist by teammate Justine van Lathem. By the 24th minute, the Tigers doubled their lead after a goal by sophomore attacker Gabriella Fondario. It was an unexpected start for the Cardinal, especially considering the unstoppable defensive bulwark of Stanford’s junior goalkeeper Kelsey Bing, but the team does not simply give up.
The first half may have had Stanford on the run, but the second half was a different story altogether. Sophomore attacker Corinne Zanolli put Stanford on the scoreboard with her 24th goal of the season only two minutes into the second half. Countless attempts were made by the Cardinal cohort throughout the half, and there is no doubt that that this contest was hard-fought, but the Tigers conserved their position and took the game.
Although the Cardinal were defeated and their streak was broken, we saw strong performances from Stanford’s senior class. Seniors Kennedy Schumacher, Jordan Barry and Emma Christus were the stars of Friday’s game; before the match, their incredible careers with the team were celebrated on the field. Schumacher, a two-time NFHCA National Academic squad member, assisted four goals this season. Barry has had a continuously impressive run on the team with spots on the America East Conference All-Rookie team back in 2015 and the America East Conference Honor Roll in 2016. Last but not least, Christus, a two-time America East Conference Honor Roll recipient, contributed a whopping 18 points this season with six goals (second in the team). She was recently invited to play in the NFHCA Division I Senior Game at the NCAA Championships.
The game against Pacific was a valiant fight into the night, a final battle for the fantastic, fierce and fiery Cardinal. This first conference loss did not erode their stellar record nor their number-one spot in the AEC. Throughout the season, the young team has displayed virtuous skill and breathtaking control of the turf. Bing and Zanolli have been especially crucial at the vanguard of the Cardinal defense and offense, respectively, making for a world-class team that has won a few spectacular upsets and guarded Stanford’s top conference spot. Averaging 3.22 goals per game, scoring 25 percent of all the shots they make and accomplishing an eight-game winning streak this season, Stanford is an intimidating opponent.
Stanford is gearing up for the postseason as it hosts the America East Conference Tournament. The Cardinal will face off against New Hampshire at Varsity Turf on Thursday at 1 p.m. PST.
Contact Arman Kassam at armank ‘at’ stanford.edu.