Bison field hockey makes history

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Roger Mellado, Staff Writer

After upsetting both the number 2 ranked American Eagles in the semifinals and the number 1 ranked Boston terriers, the Bison made their first NCAA appearance in program history this past weekend at Penn State. 

On Friday, the Bison faced off against the VCU Rams in their first tournament game. It was a defensive battle for most of the first two quarters of play. After a penalty corner opportunity, the Rams took the lead 1-0 going into the halftime break. Six minutes into the third quarter, the Bison earned a penalty corner opportunity of their own. Midfielder Mary Kate Stefanowicz ’22 was positioned perfectly to send the ball into the back of the goal. 

After a scoreless fourth quarter, the Bison again found themselves entering a do-or-die overtime situation. The first overtime went by without either team scoring. Goalie Clara McCormick ’23 made a remarkable 1-on-1 save against a charging defender, further solidifying her place as one of the top goalies in the Patriot League. 

With 13 seconds left on the overtime clock, it appeared as though the Bison would again be taking a game to an overtime penalty shootout. As the clock ticked down, the Bison launched penalty corner into the circle. After a flurry of passes, shot attempts and finally the resounding thud of the ball hitting the back of the goal, the Bison swarmed Stefanowicz yet again in celebration of her game-winning goal. 

Immediately following their on field celebration, the ladies had to prepare for their elite 8 matchup against the second-seeded Michigan Wolverines. 

On Sunday afternoon, the Bison squared off against the Wolverines at Penn State. The Bison played Michigan tough as nails through the first two quarters, with the first goal coming out of an extremely skilled play by a Michigan forward with under a minute left before halftime. Michigan scored again in the third quarter off of a penalty corner opportunity. Unfortunately, the Bison were unable to get a goal past the sturdy Michigan defense despite their strong efforts. As the clock ticked down on their season, the final score read 2-0 Michigan. 

Stefanowicz, who is also the Bison Athlete of the Week, shared her take on their season and her performance: “Nothing would have been possible without my teammates. Our seniors have led us throughout this entire season. All of the adversity, starting out 0-3, nobody believed we would even make the Patriot League tournament, let alone the NCAA’s. There is nobody else I would have rather gone through this season with than my teammates. It was bittersweet this weekend. We were all so proud of our team for making it this far, but also so sad to say goodbye to our seniors who’ve become family. I am so happy we could send them out the best way possible!” Stefanowicz said.

The Bison had a historic season. Starting out 0-3 and then eventually becoming the Patriot League champions and making it to the NCAA Elite 8. They were the first team in program history to accomplish such a feat. The future is bright for the Bison, and we commend them on a fantastic season!

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