By Arman Kassam
For the third year in a row, No. 21 Stanford field hockey (0-0, 0-0 America East) opens up its season with the Stanford Invitational against No. 15 Northwestern (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) and No. 4 Connecticut (0-0, 0-0 Big East). The Cardinal will host Northwestern on Friday, followed by Connecticut on Sunday.
Last year, Stanford went 14-6 overall, 5-1 in conference matches, and managed to remain a top-25 team throughout the year. The Cardinal carried an eight-game win streak and defeated No. 6 Michigan (0-1-1, 0-0 Big Ten), and at the end of the year, the record-setting squad swept the America East awards. Junior Corinne Zanolli won Offensive Player of the Year, sophomore Molly Redgrove won Rookie of the Year and senior Kelsey Bing won Co-goalkeeper of the Year. Head coach Tara Danielson and assistant coaches Steve Danielson and Patrick Cota were all named the America East Coaching Staff of the Year.
Among other successes, Bing went on to compete in the Pan American games, helping the US National Team bring home a bronze medal in early August.
Zanolli was named a Longstreth/National Field Hockey Coaches Association second-team All-American, a fitting reward for someone who nearly doubled her goals scored between her freshman and sophomore years. With 26 goals and 59 points, Zanolli had a remarkable sophomore campaign. She was ranked second in the nation offensively, led Stanford in offensive stats and set a new school scoring record for a single season.
The Cardinal introduces five new freshmen this year: Keeley Akagi, Megan Frost, Caroline Reinhart, Lynn Vanderstichele and Rose Winter. Despite all of the Cardinal’s potential and raw talent, rookie and veteran, the fact remains that Stanford has not won a season opener since 2014.
And the opening competition on Friday won’t give the Cardinal an easy out to break this trend. Northwestern has beat Stanford in six of the past 11 matches, including the previous two. Most recently, the Wildcats’ Saar de Breij popped in a goal against Stanford to secure a 3-2 double-overtime victory on Aug. 26, 2018.
Connecticut may prove to be an even more formidable opponent on Sunday. The Huskies have taken nine of the past 10 games against Stanford. At the last bout between good and evil, the Huskies beat Stanford 3-0 on Aug. 25, 2018, solidifying a five-game winning streak against our heroes in red. Unsurprisingly, the Huskies went 19-4 last season, winning their seventh-straight Big East tournament title and advancing to the NCAA national quarterfinals.
As for the rest of the season, Stanford starts off with a series of home matches against Quinnipiac (0-0, 0-0 Big East) and Michigan before turning to the Northeast for some action against Brown (0-0, 0-0 Ivy) and Harvard (0-0, 0-0 Ivy). The Cardinal will then find itself going from Durham, New Hampshire — where they will play New Hampshire (0-0, 0-0 America East) and Vermont (0-0, 0-0 America East) — to Durham, North Carolina, where they will play Duke (0-0, 0-0 ACC). In mid-October, the Cardinal will take another stop at Columbus and Louisville before settling back in California until tournament season flares up.
As of now, this weekend’s opponents are the only two ranked teams that Stanford will compete against this season. The Cardinal is slated to play against rival Cal Berkeley (0-0, 0-0 America East) on Sept. 20 at Stanford and Oct. 22 at Berkeley. The Cardinal last defeated their nemesis at UC Davis in a close 3-2 match — Stanford has won 11 out of the past 13 matches against the Golden Bears. Zanolli netted two goals at this last match.
The saga of fockey titans begins with a match against Northwestern Aug. 30 at 11 a.m. PT on Varsity Turf. The game against Connecticut will take place Sept. 1 at 11 a.m. PT at Stanford as well.