November is for cooler weather and College Field Hockey!
As the fall season comes to an end and the weather starts to cool off, the post-season for college field hockey heats up. 18 teams make the NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championship playoffs. Ten conferences are awarded automatic-qualifications, the four lowest conferences of the ten are offered play-in games. The remaining eight spots are at-large bids given to teams the Field Hockey Committee votes into the bracket. The six automatic-qualifications went to Stanford (American East Conference), University of Virginia (ACC), Harvard (Ivy League), UCONN (Big East), Penn State (Big Ten), and the University of Delaware (CAA); the two play in games will be played by UMass (Atlantic 10) vs Monmouth (Metro Atlantic), and Kent State (MAAC) and American (Patriot League). The eight teams that did not receive an AQ but were voted into the bracket are: Boston College, Duke University, University of Louisville, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina, Princeton University, and Syracuse University.
The play-in games will be played tomorrow, November 9th, and the first and second round games will be played over the weekend, November 12th and 13th, at various hosting locations. The Final Four games will be played at Old Dominion University on Friday November 18th and the National Champion will be determined on November 20th.
Three ACC teams and two Big Ten team make up the top 5 in the last NFHCA Coaches Poll - Duke, Maryland, Syracuse, UNC, and Penn State (in order from No. 1 - No. 5). Teams from the Top 20 who did not make the tournament include: Iowa, Albany, Northwestern, Boston University, and Wake Forest. Kent State, Monmouth, and University of Massachusetts were not represented in the latest Top 10 but won their conference to break into the bracket.
Local teams American University and University of Maryland will both host their first games. American University will host Kent State on Wednesday at 2:00 pm, but if they win they will have to travel to Durham, North Carolina (Duke) to play the second and third rounds. Maryland University, despite losing to Penn State in the conference championship, was the No. 2 seed overall and will host the winner of Monmouth v. Massachusetts at 11:30 AM on Saturday. If the Terps win on Saturday they will face the winner of the Stanford v. UNC game on Sunday.
Syracuse and UNC are on opposite sides of the bracket which could lead to a rematch of the 2015 National Championship game, which Syracuse won 4-2 to capture their first ever National Championship. Duke University is the No. 1 seed overall and could easily make a Championship run. Maryland, however, has had a very successful season especially considering this was expected to be a building year for them. The ACC Champions, Virginia, and the Big Ten conference Champions, Penn State, both have proven that they are forces to be reckon with and will be great teams to follow.
At this point it could be any of the eighteen teams hoisting the Championship trophy on November 20th! For more information about the Division I Field Hockey National Championship and for the full bracket click here. For the Division II bracket click here, and for the Division III bracket click here.