The University of Maine field hockey team is faced with a daunting task on Thursday.
Not only are the second-seeded Black Bears trying to win in the America East semifinals, they’re facing a team that could be playing the final game in program history.
League co-champion UMaine (7-3 overall, 7-1 AE) plays No. 3 Stanford (8-2, 6-2) at 2:30 p.m. at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey.
On July 8, 2020, Stanford University announced that field hockey was one of 11 sports being cut from the athletic program due to budget constraints. It is the longest running women’s program at the prestigious California university dating back to 1903 and has made 17 NCAA Tournament appearances since 1974.
Co-champion and top seed Monmouth (9-2, 7-1 AE) takes No. 4 UMass Lowell (7-4, 5-3 AE) at noon. The championship game is set for noon Saturday.
UMaine racked up seven America East season honors on Wednesday, including the Midfielder of the Year in senior Hana Davis and a Co-Coaching Staff of the Year honor for head coach Josette Babineau and associate head coach Michelle Simpson.
Davis and junior Chloe Watson were named to the all-conference first team, senior Brittany Smith claimed a second-team spot, and Poppy Lambert and Tereza Holubcova picked up All-Rookie accolades.
Julia Ross and Cassandra Mascarenhas earned spots on the All-Academic team.
UMaine and Stanford played on April 14 at Durham, New Hampshire and the Black Bears won 3-2 on Walton’s goal with 1:41 left in regulation.
Stanford, which joined America East in 2015 along with fellow California schools California (Berkeley), the California-Davis and Pacific, has won three of the last four America East tournaments. The Cardinal bested UMaine 1-0 in a shootout in the 2019 semifinals.
Stanford needed a 3-2 overtime win at Albany in the final game of its three-games-in-four-days East Coast swing to clinch a playoff spot. It had lost 3-2 last Friday at UMass Lowell.
UMaine is looking for its first America East tournament title and NCAA Tournament berth.
The Black Bears have won seven of their last eight games, five of those wins without 2019 America East Defender of the Year Mascarenhas, who has missed the last six games with a broken finger.
Junior Walton is the top scorer with six goals and one assist followed by freshmen Lambert (5 & 1), Holubcova (2 & 5) and senior Brooke Sulinski of Old Town (3 & 1).
Sulinski is one of five Maine natives who has played in all 10 games along with Pittsfield’s Madisyn Hartley, Garland’s Abby Webber, Portland’s Hannah Abbott and Boothbay Harbor’s Sydney Meader.
Goalkeeper Mia Borley has played every minute and has a 1.84 goals-against average and .694 save percentage.
Tara Danielson’s Stanford Cardinals feature U.S. national team player and two-time All-American Corinne Zanolli (14 & 4). Frances Carstens (5 & 2) and Kaylie Mings (3 & 6) complement her along with Juli Porto (4 & 0) and goalie Hannah Santos (2.09 GAA, .659 save percentage).