All the news for Wednesday 20 November 2019
Weekend College Games: Division I NCAA Final Four
College field hockey has now entered NCAA Tournament Semifinal and Final play in Division I. USA Field Hockey highlights each Division Tournament this weekend.
Kentner Stadium | Winston-Salem, N.C.
Friday, November 22 | Semifinals | 1:00 p.m. ET & 3:45 p.m. ET
Sunday, November 24 | Final | 1:00 p.m. ET
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 7 Boston College | 1:00 p.m. ET
For the 11th straight year, No. 1 North Carolina will play in the NCAA Division I Final Four as they meet No. 7 Boston College on Friday. North Carolina narrowly defeated Iowa 2-1 in the Elite Eight after the Hawkeyes struck first. Two unanswered goals helped the Tar Heels take the lead and avoid an overtime period. Boston College earned a spot in the program’s first-ever Final Four as they knocked out No. 5 Louisville in a sudden victory round of shootouts. These teams met twice earlier this season, first in the regular season and second in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) final. North Carolina took both wins and remains undefeated for 44 straight games. Boston College will put it all on the line for the chance to appear in the championship game, while North Carolina will chase their next opportunity for another national title.
No. 3 Virginia vs. No. 9 Princeton | 3:45 p.m. ET
No. 3 Virginia and Princeton will meet in the second game of the semifinal round of the NCAA Division I Tournament. Virginia downed Maryland to secure their ticket to the team’s third Final Four appearance in the last 14 years under current head coach Michele Madison. Their competition, Princeton, has also notched their third trip to the semifinals in four years as they defeated No. 2 Connecticut 2-0 last weekend. This will mark the fourth time in a row that these two teams have met in the tournament. History is in favor of Princeton, who knocked out Virginia the past three seasons. The Tigers will look to continue their program’s longest winning streak to 13 and play for the national title with a win over the Cavaliers, while Virginia will look for redemption over Princeton and chance to play in the championship on Sunday.
USFHA media release
Previewing the Final Four field before UNC field hockey vies for another perfect season
By Ryan Wilcox
UNC sophomore forward Erin Matson (1) defends against Iowa senior defender Katie Birch (11). The Hawkeyes were tied with the Tar Heels 1-1 at halftime. The Tar Heels won 2-1 on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019 in Karen Shelton Stadium. Abe Loven
This weekend, the North Carolina field hockey team will look to finish what it started and go for perfection.
If the Tar Heels can win two games and capture another national championship, they would complete a second straight undefeated season and extend the nation's longest winning streak to an astounding 46 games going back to the start of last year.
Last weekend, UNC handled Stanford in the first round, 4-0, then overcame an early Iowa goal to defeat the Hawkeyes 2-1 in the second round. Now, with an NCAA title on the line, the Tar Heels are left competing with three teams that they have already beaten this season.
On Friday at 1 p.m., North Carolina will compete against Boston College, whom they beat 3-2 in the regular season, then 3-1 on Nov. 10 to capture the ACC Championship. Outside of those games, the Eagles lost just once in seven games against ACC foes, and will be licking their chops for another chance at beating UNC.
"It's hard to beat a good team three times," head coach Karen Shelton said. "So it's not gonna be easy for us... we'll take it as the next season, really. A fourth season for us."
Still, there is something to be said for that familiarity.
"It's exciting to play a team that we've played before in the season," senior forward Marissa Creatore said. "It makes preparation a little bit easier. But at the same time, it's the Final Four, it's gonna be a tough game no matter what."
On the other side of the Final Four bracket sit Princeton and Virginia. UNC edged the Tigers 4-3 early in the season on Sept. 6, then later that month embarrassed the Cavaliers in Charlottesville, 5-0. In fact, the No. 1 Tar Heels have played and beaten seven other teams currently ranked in the top 10.
They will have sophomore Erin Matson, the nation's leading scorer and the ACC Offensive Player of the Year, plus senior stalwarts Creatore, Catherine Hayden and Megan DuVernois. One important name they could be without, though? Senior midfielder Yentl Leemans, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Leemans, a Breda, Netherlands native, left the game against the Hawkeyes and is being evaluated for a concussion. Her absence would be a huge blow to a North Carolina defense that has allowed just 20 goals all season, less than a score per game.
On Friday, the Tar Heels will have to contain a Boston College offense that has scored 52 goals, led by 18 from first-year forward Margo Carlin. If they advance, they will face either a Princeton team that has posted 63 goals thus far, or a Virginia team that's found the back of the net 46 times (though the stingy Cavaliers defense has only allowed 24 goals themselves).
If Leemans is unavailable, the onus could be on the UNC offense to produce goals and keep pace with its championship-level competition. A multi-goal effort — or two — could be exactly what North Carolina needs to realize its dream of a second consecutive perfect season.
The Daily Tar Heel
Noelle Frost’s journey with Maryland field hockey culminated in a career game vs. Virginia
Goalkeeper Noelle Frost during Maryland field hockey’s 5-1 win over Michigan State on Oct. 25, 2019. (Gabby Baniqued/The Diamondback)
Two minutes into the fourth quarter of Maryland field hockey’s matchup with No. 3-seed Virginia, goalkeeper Noelle Frost dropped to the ground to parry away midfielder Rachel Robinson’s penalty corner effort, preventing a breakthrough in the scoreless affair.
But the ball fell to defender Anzel Viljoen, standing outside the goalmouth with the cage gaping. Defender Bodil Keus rushed to the goal line, hoping to make a last-ditch clearance. But as the ball dribbled to the cage, Viljoen’s effort seemed destined to dash Maryland’s hopes of a third consecutive final four appearance.
Frost swooped in, though, stretching across the goal frame and knocking the ball out of play with her stick.
Those were two of her eleven saves on the night — a new career-high. And while the Terps were unable to leave Charlottesville with a victory, ending their season, Sunday’s performance in the NCAA tournament was the culmination of a long and unorthodox journey for the redshirt senior.
“She’s great,” Keus said, “Noelle Frost definitely picked it up so well. … I trust her every single [time] she’s in the circle.”
Frost’s journey to becoming the Terps’ No. 1 in net began on a grassy field in rural Glenwood, striking balls with a stick that her older cousins — former players at Frostburg — gifted her.
“[Field hockey] was my first spark,” Frost said Sept. 23. “My first friend.”
Despite her predisposition for the sport, Frost remained heavily involved in other activities, especially after her transition to public education from home schooling.
Softball and field hockey dominated her athletic life, along with dancing. And, in her free time, Frost joined 4-H club, a service organization for children.
“I was the president of the club at one point,” Frost said earlier this season, chuckling, “President of a bunch of elementary schoolers.”
But field hockey reigned supreme for Frost, who joined Gambrills-based SPark Field Hockey Club and quickly established herself as one of the top goalkeeper prospects in the nation.
“I got picked to the under-17s junior national team, and I was like ‘Oh my gosh,’” Frost said, “‘I’m good at this.’”
Shortly thereafter, Frost committed to Maryland, setting the course for what would be a whirlwind first four years in College Park.
She had to wait her turn, though. When Frost first arrived in 2016, she was greeted with a redshirt, with former Maryland goalkeepers Sarah Holliday and Sarah Bates embroiled in a tightly-contested battle for the starting spot.
She continued to bide her time as Holliday became the unquestioned starter, and saw only 11 appearances combined in her sophomore and junior seasons.
But the Glenelg alum was always ready, and eventually, she got her chance after Holliday graduated last year.
“Noey’s new, but she’s not new,” coach Missy Meharg said earlier this season. “[She’s] been looking at this opportunity, and I’m not surprised.”
Frost impressed over the course of the season, finishing the season with the third-best save percentage and goals-against average in the country. She added five shutouts and was named the NFHCA Division I Defensive Player of the Week on two occasions.
And Sunday, Frost bookended her season with yet another impressive display, putting the Terps in position to claim a momentous victory against a talented Virginia side that outshot Meharg’s squad, 17-6.
While an overtime winner ultimately cut Maryland’s season short, Frost’s development over the course of her career provides the Terps with a foundational piece to build upon. And with the redshirt senior returning to College Park next season, Meharg will be looking for a similar level of performance from her top netminder.
“She’s a pleasure to coach,” Meharg said. “She did her time as a redshirt. She’s now got the groove, and she knows what it takes.”
Northwestern field hockey’s significant 2019 strides
An incredible season didn’t accomplish all of the Wildcats’ goals, but it laid the groundwork for a bright future.
By Lia Assimakopoulos
@NUFHCats on Twitter
When Puck Pentenga played her final few minutes in Evanston last November, Northwestern field hockey seemed largely prepared for a rebuilding season in 2019.
Little did anybody outside the program know that redshirt first year Bente Baekers, who sat out all of last season with an injury, would step up to become the future of Wildcat field hockey, leading the team offensively and putting together an outstanding season.
Northwestern finished its 2019 campaign with a 14-8 overall record and a 5-3 Big Ten mark. The Wildcats capped off their season by advancing to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament and earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017.
Back in September, the fate of the Wildcats’ season was largely up in the air, with 11 ranked teams lined up ahead of them. However, after starting its season 2-2, Northwestern went on a tear, winning eight straight games including victories over No. 13 Boston College, No. 15 Wake Forest, No. 12 Ohio State, No. 24 Michigan State and No. 9 Michigan.
Northwestern was rolling, becoming recognized as the fifth-ranked team in the nation, and Bente Baekers was simply unstoppable. She led the nation in goals scored and points and recorded back-to-back hat tricks during the stretch.
However, things would momentarily take a turn for the worse when the Wildcats hit their toughest stretch of the season. It started with a heartbreaking 2-1 double overtime loss to Maryland, which was followed by two more regretful overtime defeats to Maine and Penn State.
At this point, team morale was low. Maine is one of the worst squads in college field hockey, and Northwestern had just played four straight overtime games, reaching a point of exhaustion.
Heading into the final stretch of the season, the postseason fate of Tracey Fuchs’ squad was on the line. The Wildcats had two ranked opponents left and two more seemingly easy wins. They would first have to travel to take on No. 19 Rutgers on the road, a game that largely turned their season back around.
Their 4-1 win over the Scarlet Knights set them up to return home and destroy Kent State 5-0 before taking on No. 8 Iowa in what was arguably the biggest game of the regular season for the Wildcats.
Northwestern put up the best fight it could against the outstanding Iowa defense, but ultimately fell 2-1. However, thanks to a decisive 6-0 win over Indiana to cap off the regular season, and necessary wins and losses from other teams around the conference, NU earned the three-seed in the Big Ten tournament and drew the six-seed Scarlet Knights as its first-round opponent.
Again, Northwestern dominated Rutgers and advanced to face the two-seed Hawkeyes in the semi-finals. Yet again, the Wildcats fell 2-1 and their dreams of a conference title were shattered by the soon to be Big Ten Champions.
From there, the fate of Northwestern’s post-season was out of its hands. The Wildcats were no longer eligible for one of ten automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament and had to rely on their regular season performance to earn one of eight at-large bids.
However, both the Big Ten and the ACC, especially, had plenty of teams deserving of one of these spots. It was just a question of whether or not Northwestern had done enough.
For the fifteenth time in program history, Northwestern was selected to compete in the NCAA Tournament as one of the nation’s top 18 teams. The Wildcats were challenged with Boston College as their first-round opponent, a team they had beaten back in September. However, the Eagles were the hottest team in college field hockey and has won eight of their last nine regular season games with the only loss coming to No. 1 UNC.
Unfortunately, the Eagles’ hot streak continued, and Northwestern fell in the first round, bringing its magical season to an end. While the year did not end the way the team may have wanted, a lot of positive takeaways come out of this season for the Wildcats, boding well for the future of the program.
The year was marked by offensive dominance. Northwestern outscored its opponents 65 to 34 over the course of the season and averaged almost three goals per game, finishing 11th in the nation in that category. Additionally, the Wildcats outnumbered their opponents 121 to 91 on penalty corners, which was a deciding stat in numerous games.
This dominance was marked by strong performances from a young core of first-year forwards. Peyton Halsey and Ana Medina Garcia were two leaders in the group who recorded three goals apiece at crucial points of the season. Halsey even earned Big Ten freshman of the week for her efforts back in September.
However, one first year rose above the rest. Bente Baekers exceeded all expectations this season and was absolutely unstoppable on offense. She single-handedly carried the team to numerous wins and played a crucial role in every Wildcat win. Baekers led the nation with 28 goals on the season and finished third in goals per game with 1.29.
She earned Big Ten Freshman of the year, was selected to the first-team all-Big Ten, earned Big Ten Freshman of the week five times throughout the season and earned Big Ten offensive player of the week once. Northwestern’s future is bright with Baekers’ long career ahead.
While the youth on the team exceeded expectations this season, strong leadership from the older offensive-leaning players was just as crucial. Senior Saar de Breij, junior Lakin Barry and sophomore Maren Seidel all had impressive seasons as forwards, scoring nine, five and six goals respectively.
On the other side of the ball, Florien Marcussen filled in nicely in Annie Kalfas’ absence, charting 14 wins on the season, allowing 33 goals and recording a .727 save percentage. Kirsten Mansfield and Kayla Blas were also two huge leaders on defense while simultaneously acting as the two assist leaders on the team. Mansfield led the pack with 17 assists and finished second in the nation with .81 assists per game.
A deciding factor of the ‘Cats’ success this season was the seven ranked wins they recorded over the course of the regular season. Those, alongside the impressive eight-game mid-season win streak, propelled the ‘Cats to a stellar post-season run and a shot at both the Big Ten and NCAA titles.
Looking ahead to next year, Northwestern loses six seniors: Erica Hootstein, Saar de Breij, Lily Gandhi, Lily Katzman, Caroline Hughes and Kirsten Mansfield. From this group, the biggest losses are de Breij’s goal-scoring abilities and the defensive presence as a whole.
De Breij finished her career with 25 goals and 10 assists and was the second-leading goal scorer this season behind Baekers. The Netherlands native’s aggression on offense and overall leadership will certainly be missed.
Northwestern’s biggest losses next year, though, come on defense. Mansfield and Gandhi have both started almost every game in their careers at back and have been central players in the defense for years now. Mansfield has additionally been a regular contributor on offense, recording 22 goals and 52 assists for 96 points in her career. That group will certainly face some rebuilding next season with the loss of these two crucial leaders.
Overall, Northwestern is on track to be a dominant force again next year, especially on offense. Baekers is young and will just keep getting better; Barry and Marcussen will step up as senior leaders, and while the team will certainly need to account for the losses on defense, the Wildcats are on the cusp of a turning point for the program with their impressive youth.
Tracey Fuchs has continually showed that her squad can compete, and we can expect nothing less from the ‘Cats in 2020.
Petition to review USA Field Hockey's mission to "Succeed Internationally"
USAFH Men's and Women's National Teams started this petition to USA Field Hockey Athletes and 3 others
The USA Men’s and Women’s National Teams would like your support for the USA Field Hockey Board of Directors to structurally review the operational procedure and the leadership decisions that attribute to the mission of "Succeed Internationally.” In order for both the Men’s and Women’s teams to succeed, there are standards that need to be met in high performance areas. Both teams feel these standards are not being met, resulting in continued challenges for each program. The main areas of focus are listed below.