A gritty second half and a clutch goal in overtime by Marissa Cicione capped a 3-2 come-from-behind win over No. 24 Pacific Saturday sending the No. 18 Stanford field hockey team into the America East Conference Championship contest.
"What a fantastic rivalry in the West that's developed between Stanford and Pacific," Cardinal coach Tara Danielson said., "It was a good game with good play by both teams and Pacific is a great team that has brought a lot of excitement to the West. Our team has continued to step up to challenge each other to be better each game."
The Tigers scored to take a 1-0 lead into halftime and kept at it to make it 2-0 early in the second half.
Stanford didn't waste time responding, scoring a couple of minutes later as Sarah Johnson sent in a ball that Kristina Bassi laid out for to make it 2-1.
Stanford drew a corner a bit later the that Johnson and Katie Keyser set up perfectly for Frances Carstens, who ripped a shot into the top shelf to knot it up 2-2.
Both team continued to go full throttle through the duration, but the defense wouldn't allow another goal as it headed into overtime.
"I think in the second half we came together as a team," Danielson said. "Today we had a slow burn all game long. We said at the half that we were going to need three goals to win this game, and the team delivered under pressure. I'm really proud of them and their ability to fight back and to see the champion within."
The overtime period was dominated by the Cardinal, as the defense allowed only one shot to Pacific while the offense continued to push with six. A huge defensive save by Pacific kept the Tigers hanging on, but Corinne Zanolli's move past a defender set up her pass to Cicione for the one-touch game-winning goal.
Stanford enters into Sunday's championship looking to defend its 2016 America East title were it will face UNH. Game time is set for 10 a.m. PT in Lowell, Mass.