By Niles Egan
Behind Sarah Johnson’s game-winning goal in the final minute, No. 17 field hockey (15-6, 4-0 America East) captured the America East Championship in a 2-1 win over tournament host No. 20 Monmouth (14-5, 5-0 America East), securing a spot in the NCAA tournament.
Johnson’s game winner came in the 59th minute of the game when she tapped in a score off of a clutch pass from sophomore midfielder Isabelle Pilson. The assist marked Pilson’s first of the season, and it could not have come at a better time for the Cardinal.
Sunday’s game marked the Cardinal’s third appearance in the America East Conference Tournament final, and their first since winning back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017. Stanford will now be making its 17th overall NCAA tournament appearance and its tenth in the past 13 seasons.
The Cardinal shot out to an early one-goal lead behind junior attacker Corinne Zanolli’s score five minutes into the game. The goal marked Zanolli’s 30th of the season and extended her own single-season school record. She leads the NCAA this season in both goals and points (63). In total she attempted a game-high six shots against Monmouth, helping Stanford finish with a 16-2 advantage in shot attempts.
Monmouth evened the score at one goal apiece just after halftime when Josephine van der Hoop scored following a deflection. In the final quarter, Stanford’s offense rallied to attempt seven of their 10 total penalty corners in the last 15 minutes of play. This offensive onslaught culminated with Johnson’s game-winner.
Throughout the tournament, the Cardinal expertly outmatched their opponents behind a stout defense. Monmouth’s two shot attempts were the fewest by a Stanford opponent this season. In three postseason victories, the Cardinal recorded two shutouts and surrendered a total of 17 shots and just a single goal.
Much credit for Stanford’s defensive success this season can be attributed to senior goalkeeper Kelsey Bing, who also is a member of the U.S. Women’s National Field Hockey Team. In the final, Bing registered no saves for just the third time in her career. All of those games resulted in Stanford wins.
Stanford will look to build upon its postseason momentum in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Stanford will play Miami University (13-7, 5-1 MAC) Wednesday at 11 a.m.