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Nov. 18, 2021 — Inside the NCAA Final Four

HARVARD vs. NORTHWESTERN

The obvious: A matchup of two good field hockey teams, two good coaching staffs, and a lot of very smart players.

The not-so-obvious: Field hockey has been on the Harvard campus, in some form, for 120 years. Constance Applebee demonstrated the sport while doing her teaching studies at Radcliffe College. Her first demonstration of the sport was in the courtyard of the first iteration of Hemenway Gymnasium, which stood where the current Littauer Center for government and public administration sits. Harvard was also one of the first schools to announce a shutdown of classes last March because of the pandemic, and the Ivy League did not play a single field hockey game during the 2020-21 academic year.

Key players: Harvard: Hannah Pearce, sr., d; Mimi Tarrant, sr., f/m; Avery Donahue, so., f; Megan Joel, fr., m; Mazarine Broze, so., f; Northwestern: Maddie Zimmer, so., f; Lauren Wadas, so., f; Bente Baekers, jr. f; Clara Roth, gr., f; Maren Seidel, sr., f.m; Maddie Bacskai, gr., d

Harvard wins this game if: they score the first goal. The Crimson have an extremely stingy defense, one that allows a mere 0.44 goals per game.

Northwestern wins this game if: the game goes goalless into the final quarter. Players like Wadas and Zimmer are proven players who come through in the clutch.

The skinny: Much will be made of the fact that Harvard has 11 foreign players on its roster. But Northwestern also has a half-dozen offshore players, and doubtless one or more will have an impact on the outcome of the match.

The unanswered questions: How will the Americans on both sides of the center stripe fare? Will the attacks be generating corners or will the teams try to go for goal shots from open play? Which defense will hold, especially in the first 15 minutes?


MARYLAND vs. LIBERTY

The obvious: This is a chalk-and-cheese matchup between a Maryland program which has won eight national championships, against a Liberty side is in its first Final Four,

The not-so-obvious: Liberty has been building up to this very moment for years, especially after a one-goal loss to North Carolina in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

Key players: Maryland: Bibi Donradt, sr., m; Hope Rose, fr., f; Emma Deberdine, jr., m; Rayne Wright, so, m; Margot Lawn, jr., f; Liberty: Daniella Rhodes, sr., f; Jill Bolton, sr., f; Bethany Dykema, jr., d; Azul Iritxity Irigoyen, so., g

Maryland wins this game if: the Terrapins are able to get their sophisticated midfield passing game going. If Donradt scores on the first corner of the game, it could be a long afternoon for Liberty.

Liberty wins this game if: they take control the first 10 minutes of the game. The Flames lead Division I in scoring, and have the ability to stamp their authority on the game.

The skinny: Liberty has the longest current win streak in NCAA Division I. The team is also unbeaten against Top 25 teams in its last eight outings.

The unanswered questions: It has been a long time since a Division I team with zero previous wins in national tournament play has made it this far. Can the Flames keep their belief going over the next two games? Has Maryland made it all the way back from last spring’s inability to make the 2020-21 NCAA Tournament? With all of the offensive talent on offer, which Terp will step up?

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