The eighth-ranked Stanford field hockey team earned its first NCAA tournament victory Saturday with a 2-1 overtime victory over Louisville at Connecticut.
Alex McCawley received a pass inside the circle in the fourth minute of the extra period, stick-handled around a diving Louisville goalkeeper and fired a shot into the back of the goal. It was McCawley's team-leading 15th goal and fifth game-winning score on the season.
"I'm happy and excited for the team," Stanford coach Tara Danielson said. "The seniors have really dedicated themselves for four years to make a difference and change the course of history for the Stanford field hockey program, and they've done that. They deserve it."
The Cardinal (19-2) will play Connecticut (17-3) at 11 a.m. (PT) Sunday with a spot in the Final Four on the line. Stanford beat the Huskies earlier in the season.
Stanford improved to 4-0 against top-10 opponents, 5-0 in overtime games and 19-0 when scoring a goal. Stanford has limited opponents to one goal or less in 20 of 21 games.
Stanford got off to a quick start, applying consistent pressure in Louisville's zone. Lauren Becker scored her 10th goal of the year at 3:12.
Kasey Quon had the ball just outside the top of the circle and slid a pass to Becker on the left side of the field. Becker turned past a defender and fired a shot into the right corner of the goal.
Louisville responded with consistent pressure in Stanford's zone, fueled in large part by a barrage of penalty corners.
Louisville leveled the score at 1-1 on its fifth penalty corner of the half at 24:58. Louisville finished the game with a 9-3 advantage in penalty corners.
Stanford's defense played well, especially against penalty corner, getting in front of passes and shots to disrupt Louisville's attack. Cardinal goalie Dulcie Davies finished the game with four saves.
Stanford started the overtime period similar to regulation, playing quickly and aggressively in Louisville's zone. Once again Stanford scored in the fourth minute of the period when Maddie Secco took possession of the ball at midfield and passed to Becker.
Becker drew the lone Louisville defender to her just outside the circle before sliding a pass to McCawley, who was waiting inside the circle to the left of the goal.
The Cardinals' goalkeeper came out to challenge the pass but McCawley weaved around the sprawling goalkeeper to the right of the goal and fired a shot into the back of the cage.
Stanford's players rushed to McCawley and huddled inside the circle to celebrate.
"We're a gritty team when it comes down to the wire," said Danielson. "I have confidence in our team in overtime."
Stanford is the first NorPac team to win an NCAA Tournament game.
Men's water polo
Bret Bonanni scored three goals and the second-ranked Stanford men's water polo team topped visiting Pacific, 11-8, in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match Saturday.
The victory was a fitting finish for the Cardinal's senior class in its final regular-season home contest. Conner Cleary, Nick Hoversten and Alex Bowen were honored in a pre-game ceremony.
Bowen scored twice and Cleary also scored for Stanford, which will participate in the MPSF tournament beginning with the quarterfinal round in Long Beach on Friday.
Stanford has won 22 of its first 25 games for the first time since the 2002 team went on to win the national title.
Heavyweight Nathan Butler recorded a major decision in the final bout of the match and gave the Stanford wrestling team a 17-16 decision over visiting North Carolina.
Zach Nevills got a takedown with three seconds left in his bout at 197 pounds to set up Butler's victory.
Jim Wilson's victory at 165 pounds tied the match at 10 but the Tar Heels recorded decisions in their next two bouts to take a 16-10 advantage.
Stanford (3-1), which joins North Carolina at the Roadrunner Open in Fresno Sunday, made a bit of history by hosting the match outside in the football FanFest area (Cobb Track and Angell Field) preceding the Cardinal game with Utah.
Mason Pengilly and Connor Schram also recorded victories for the Cardinal.