Field Hockey: Stanford sweeps Michigan schools to end regular season

Nov. 1, 2011, 1:42 a.m.

Jetlag did not factor into the No. 9 Stanford field hockey team’s biggest test to date, as it hit the road this weekend to blank both Michigan State and No. 7 Michigan in a pair of 3-0 shutouts. Erasing any lingering doubts about the legitimacy of Stanford’s impressive record in a weak conference, the wins increase the likelihood of the team receiving an at-large bid should the team fall in the upcoming NorPac Tournament.

Junior defender Becky Dru scored her career-high 14th goal as Stanford won 3-0 at Michigan. The win capped a strong regular season for the Cardinal that leaves the team three wins from the school record. (SIMON WARBY/The Stanford Daily)

Opening Friday afternoon in East Lansing, the Cardinal (15-2, 6-0 NorPac) soundly defeated a Michigan State team (7-11, 1-4 Big Ten) whose offensive struggles will most likely end its streak of four consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Five-time NorPac Rookie of the Week attacker Alex McCawley scored the first goal of the game off an assist from sophomore attacker Courtney Haldeman to close the first period. After the break, sophomore attacker Hope Burke scored her seventh goal of the season after converting a pass from senior attacker Stephanie Byrne. In the final five minutes of the game, freshman midfielder Shannon Herold scored her first career goal to ensure Stanford’s 3-0 win.

With uncharacteristically sloppy play in the circle by the Card, the Spartans won the advantage in corners, 10-6. None of those penalties were converted to the back of the goal, though, and redshirt senior goalkeeper Ale Moss made six saves. Offensively, Stanford outshot Michigan State 19-12.

On Sunday the Cardinal offense showed up ready to earn its first-ever win against the Wolverines and did so in impressive fashion. Although Michigan outshot Stanford 19-5, the team could not find the back of the goal. Burke scored first off an assist from junior defender Becky Dru as the final seconds of the first quarter wound down. Herold scored the second goal, with Dru assisting again. The final goal came from Dru, whose efforts allowed the Card to snap Michigan’s streak of eight consecutive home wins and ruin yet another team’s Senior Day.

Dru surpassed her career best of 13 single-season goals and leads the team with 14; it was the 40th of her career. Moss had her best game of the season with nine saves and held the shutout despite Michigan’s 10 corners.

The road trip provided the Cardinal with even more momentum as the postseason creeps closer. After failing against ranked opponents on the road early in the season, Stanford proved it is capable of winning big games and did not look like the same team that lost 4-2 at Connecticut and 6-3 at New Hampshire. Stanford’s offense and defense both executed perfectly to secure the game and shut out the Wolverines for only the second time this season. The first came in the season-opener against No. 2 North Carolina in a 5-0 rout.

The Cardinal now needs only three more wins to break the record of 17 set by the 2009 team. Given Stanford’s perfect NorPac record and history in the tournament, it is a milestone well within reach.

“Of course, we want to win the NorPac championship to gain an automatic bid to the NCAA play-in game and make our season last as long as we can, but so do all of the other teams in our conference,” Burke said. “As of now, I think we have put ourselves in a very good position to make it into the 16-team NCAA championship bracket. It’s now up to us to execute and make those goals come true.”

The No. 1-seeded Cardinal will open tournament play on the Farm Thursday afternoon against Appalachian State.

 

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