No. 12 Stanford field hockey (14-6, 5-1 AEC) fell 3-0 Saturday against No. 4 UNC (18-5, 3-4 ACC) in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The loss marks the end of the 2016 season, in which the team earned its first conference title since 2012 and first America East Conference Championship.
North Carolina dominated the first half of the match. With two penalty corners in the first three minutes, UNC was able to capitalize off a rebound by sophomore midfielder Eva van’t Hoog despite two saves by freshman goalkeeper Kelsey Bing. Another corner in the 27th minute was also successful for the Tar Heels, putting UNC up 2-0 at the half. UNC’s defense kept the Cardinal to two shots in the half and just three in the game.
“They came out of the gates strong and capitalized on their first opportunity,” said head coach Tara Danielson, “I felt we started on our back foot early and gained momentum as the first half progressed, however, we were not able to convert when it counted.”
In the second half, defense kept the Cardinal in the game. UNC took 11 shots on goal in the half, but was stifled by Stanford’s strong defensive effort and five saves by Bing.
Despite recent success in scoring this month, Stanford was unable to produce much offense in the game and was outmatched by the higher-ranked Tar Heels. UNC led 17-3 in shots and had seven corners to Stanford’s two, both of which were in the first half.
Carolina’s final goal came on the final play of both the game and Stanford’s season. As the clock ran out, UNC drew its seventh penalty corner of the match and converted on another rebound goal to advance to the second round.
Looking back on the season as a whole, Stanford improved dramatically as a team. Filled with young talent, the Cardinal struggled early on, dropping four out of five games to start the 2016 season. Since then, Stanford has only lost twice, Oct. 16 against rival Pacific and Saturday’s game with UNC, a 13-2 run. Team defense was a highlight, and the Cardinal’s 1.06 goals against average was first in the NCAA.
The team will graduate a talented group of veterans, including Caroline Beaudoin, Casey Deeds, Kristina Bassi, Lucy Dikeou and Fran Tew.
Stanford has much to look forward to as well. The team is now the reigning America East Conference Champion, a title it will seek to defend in 2017. Four freshmen played in every game this season and gained postseason experience. Three Stanford players were named to this year’s America East All-Rookie team — midfielder Phoebe Crosthwaite, attacker Jessica Welch, and goalkeeper Kelsey Bing. Current juniors Sarah Helgeson and Katie Keyser figure to lead the team next season. The two are ranked second and fourth, respectively, in team points.
“We are disappointed with the result today, but the successes of this season are numerous,” Danielson said. “I am proud of this team and our seniors that represented Stanford well. For our young players, they will build off of this experience and will continue to move the Stanford program forward.”
Contact Laura Anderson at lauraand ‘at’ stanford.edu.