FARMVILLE, Va. - The 2012 Mid-American Conference Regular Season and Tournament Champion Miami RedHawks have traveled to Farmville, Va. for a chance to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Miami will take on the NorPac Conference Tournament Champion, 14th-ranked Stanford, in an NCAA Play-In game on Tuesday at 1 p.m.
The 2012 NCAA Field Hockey Tournament offers spots to only 16 teams. There are 11 conferences that offer field hockey. The top five conferences based on last season's RPI were awarded automatic bids for their conference champions (Penn State - Big Ten, Drexel - CAA, Albany - America East, Connecticut - Big East and North Carolina - ACC). The other six conference champions are paired off in three play-in games for three more automatic bids. Patriot League Champion Lafayette will take on Ivy League Champion Princeton and Northeast Conference Champion Rider will face Atlantic 10 Champion Massachusetts in the other two Play-In games. The other eight spots are given to at-large teams, with the losers of the Play-In games still eligible to be selected to at-large positions.
Miami enters the game 12-9 overall after defeating Ohio and Kent State to take its first MAC Tournament crown. The RedHawks have won 10 of their past 13 games since starting the season 2-6. This is the first time Miami has had a chance to play for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. It will need to win this game as its RPI rating will likely not finish high enough for at-large consideration.
Stanford is 15-6 overall. The Cardinal just won the NorPac Tournament in dominant fashion. They defeated Radford, 2-0, on Thursday, California, 6-2, on Friday and Liberty, 3-0, on Saturday in the championship game. Stanford is led by senior Becky Dru, who has 11 goals and nine assists for 31 points on the season. The Cardinal had the right to host the NCAA Play-In game, but to ease travel and cost issues for teams, agreed to play the game at Longwood University in Farmville, Va. where the NorPAC Tournament was just completed.
Miami and Stanford met earlier this season in a neutral site game in East Lansing, Mich. on Sept. 1. The Cardinal came away with a 3-0 win in that match. They had a 22-4 advantage in shots, but the RedHawks came up strong defensively, making 14 total saves. Stanford holds a 3-1 lead in the all-time series between the two schools.
If Miami is able to come away with a victory, it will learn where it will play in the 2012 NCAA Tournament when the selection show airs Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. The first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament will take place at campus sites this Saturday and Sunday.