On Friday, Nov. 8, the University of Maine field hockey team took on Stanford in a nailbiter semi-final game in the America East Championship playoffs. Maine lost in crunch time 1-0, advancing Stanford to the finals and putting the Black Bears’ season to an end. After a slow start to the season, Maine pulled together as a unit and rattled off one of the better back halves of the season in the conference. Maine finished at 8-10 on the season after starting 1-7
Both teams featured stars up and down their rosters, but the game was forced, through two scoreless overtimes and into a shootout duel, in major part, to the goaltenders for both teams. Stanford’s fourth-year goalkeeper Kelsey Bing, who is also the America East goalkeeper of the year, was credited with three saves. Her counterpart, Maine’s second-year goalkeeper Mia Borley, who is the second-team All America East goalkeeper, made eight saves for the Black Bears.
This highly anticipated matchup between two of the best squads in the country started off with both teams aggressively pushing on both sides of the field. Stanford’s third-year attacker Corinne Zanoli, who reigns as the America East offensive player of the year after leading the nation with 29 goals and 60 points, couldn’t get herself or the offense going in the first period, logging zero shots on net. Maine managed to get their offense in position to take two shots on goal, one coming from fourth-year attacker Brianna Ricker and the other from first-year forward Julia Ross. Ricker’s shot was deflected, thanks in part to crowding around the net, but Ross’s went right at Bing without any obstacles and Bing made a clean save.
The second period told a completely different tale, with Maine being pushed back on the defensive the entire time. The Black Bears didn’t register a single shot on goal during the period, and Stanford cranked out five shots at the Black Bears’ net. Borley stayed strong, though luckily the majority of the shots were deflected by her defenders or were wide, forcing her to only have to stop two shots.
The same trends continued during the second half as the defensive battle grew more intense. Stanford made a close attempt on goal towards the end of the fourth period, but fourth-year defender Morgan Anson made a big stop, blocking the shot from Stanford’s first-year attacker Lynn Vanderstichele. As second and third seeds, both teams fought with intensity through the 60 minutes of game time and still managed to storm the field for overtime with power.
During overtime it was clear how badly both teams wanted to win and go to the finals, as Stanford hounded Maine in their defensive zone, ripping off shot after shot against Borley. Again, many of the shots were either blocked, deflected or went wide of the net. This cleaning of the crease cannot be overstated, while Maine’s back end put in an impressive effort to stop the Stanford attack. Maine managed to get their offense going in the second overtime period, registering a shot for the first time since the third period. This mattered little, as the well-rested Bing managed to easily stop every shot sent her way. With Borley and Bing both being stalwarts through 80 minutes of play, the game went into a shootout, with each team sending four attackers one by one at the goalkeepers. Zanoli went first for Stanford and juked out the lone Borley to give Stanford a one-stroke lead in the shootout. Following misses from Ricker and third-year back Hana Davis, Stanford’s fourth-year attacker Emma Alderton buried the final tally behind Borley, ending the game 1-0.
Maine heads home with their heads high, having given all they had out on the field. Looking to next year, the Black Bears will be graduating Anson, Ricker, forward Brittany Smith, and midfielders Lilla Tolton-Flood and Riley Field. The Black Bears’ young, talented roster will miss its experienced leaders, but will carry forward and begin work towards next year’s America East Championship.