By Jeremy Rubin
Redshirt junior defender Sarah Johnson scored the game-winning goal in double overtime to clinch the America East Championship final for field hockey on Saturday. The 3-2 victory over No. 20 Monmouth (10-3, 7-1 America East) also secured an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament for No. 19 Stanford (10-2, 6-2 AE).
The goal, which was Johnson’s lone shot attempt of the entire game, felt reminiscent of the 2019 conference finals matchup between the two teams, where she also put the Cardinal on top in a 2-1 win. Stanford has now won four of the last five conference championships and both of the past two.
“This entire season has been for us,” said senior attacker Corinne Zanolli in a postgame interview. “That’s what we cheer at the beginning of the game, and we’ve all bought into what we need to do to have us be successful and playing for each other.”
Zanolli, who sent the pass to Johnson for the decisive shot, scored each of the first two goals for the Cardinal. Both scores came within the first ten minutes of the game and provided an early 2-1 lead for Stanford.
That one-goal margin held up for the next 45 minutes of game time before a late goal from Monmouth’s Colleen Craven tied the contest at two to send the game to overtime. Stanford was outshot during regulation time 9-8, but junior goalkeeper Hannah Santos held the Hawks to just the pair of scores to keep the team in the game.
Once in overtime, the Cardinal offense took control. Over the two overtime periods, Stanford generated seven shots compared to Monmouth’s one and had three penalty corners, the last of which led to the eventual game-winner.
When the team received the championship banner and customary school logo, the team crossed out the Stanford “S” with black tape. Field hockey has been playing with “Stanford” crossed out on its jerseys for much of the regular season in continued protest of the university’s decision to cut the varsity program following this season.
The Cardinal reached the championship following Zanolli’s late-game heroics against Maine in the semifinals on Thursday. She was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, while sophomore midfielder Megan Frost, Johnson and junior midfielder Fenella Scutt each were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Stanford will face off against Miami University (Ohio) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The game will take place at 9 a.m. PT on April 30.