EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Miami University field hockey team begins its first trip to the NCAA Tournament Wednesday when it travels to 20th-ranked Michigan State for the play-in round. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m. from Ralph Young Field in East Lansing, Mich.
For fans that are making the trip to East Lansing, tickets are $7 ($5 for 18-and-under and 55-and-over). The ticket booth is located on the east side of Ralph Young Field and will open at 12:30 p.m. Parking is available in Lots 79 (south end of Spartan Stadium), 63 West (Breslin basketball arena) and 62 West (Intermural building). All lots will be pay lots.
The RedHawks improved to 12-9 overall after winning the Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship for the second straight season over the weekend. Miami defeated Ohio, 2-1, in the semifinals and the completely shut down the Central Michigan offense to take a 2-0 win in the championship game. Junior back Ali Froede was named MAC Tournament MVP after leading a defense that allowed only one goal during the tournament. Senior forward Alyssa Logan, sophomore midfielder Bea Dechant and freshman midfielder Carla Romagosa joined her on the All-Tournament Team.
This is Miami’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament and second appearance in a National Tournament. The Red and White qualified for the 1980 AIAW Tournament, where they fell to Penn State in the opening round, and then defeated Washington State in a consolation game before being eliminated by New Hampshire.
Michigan State is 12-9 overall. It entered the Big Ten Tournament last weekend as the three seed and with a 9-9 record. After defeating sixth-seeded Indiana, 6-0, on Thursday, the Spartans needed double-overtime to defeat second-seed Ohio State, 2-1, on Friday. Facing fifth-seeded Iowa in the championship game on Sunday, MSU faced a 2-0 halftime deficit. The Spartans scored three goals in the second half to complete the comeback and earn a berth into the NCAA Tournament. It is their ninth NCAA appearance all-time and first since 2010.
Michigan State is led by junior forward Abby Barker. She has 16 goals and two assists for 34 points on the season. Another key player is junior forward Allie Ahern. She has 11 goals and three assists for 25 points in 2013. The Spartans have scored 57 times in 21 games this season (2.71 per game), while they have given up 42 (2.00 goals per game). Their goalkeeper is redshirt senior Molly Cassidy. She has started all 21 games for MSU, allowing 41 goals while making 94 saves. She boasts a .696 saves percentage.
Miami defeated Michigan State, 2-0, on Oct. 6 in Oxford. The game was scoreless after a defensive-minded first half. In the 39th minute, the RedHawks were able to earn four straight penalty corner attempts. On the fourth attempt, junior midfielder Valentina Neira found Romagosa in the middle of the circle. She beat Cassidy to give Miami a 1-0 lead. Froede scored in the 57th minute off a pass from Romagosa on another penalty corner to put the game away. Senior goalkeeper Sarah Mueller made five saves for the shutout. Miami outshot MSU, 9-8, for the game and had a 10-4 advantage in penalty corners.
The winner of the NCAA Play-In Round game advances to the Syracuse Regional this weekend to take on second seed Syracuse in a first round game Saturday at 11:30 a.m. The other first round game will feature Connecticut against Boston College at 2 p.m. The winners of those two contests will play Sunday at 2 p.m. with a berth in the NCAA Final Four on the line.