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Weekend College Games: NCAA Division I Bracket Breakdown

April 27, 2021, 9:28 a.m. (ET)

The 2020 NCAA Division I Field Hockey Tournament field is set! Below is a breakdown of each region's teams, match-ups and more!

This year's championship bracket consists of 12 teams, nine automatic qualifiers and three at-large selections. The top four teams were seeded nationally and received a first-round bye this year. Normally the bracket size for the championship is 16 teams. The following teams won their conference and received an automatic qualification: Stanford (America East), North Carolina (Atlantic Coast Conference), Virginia Commonwealth (Atlantic 10), Connecticut (BIG EAST), Michigan (Big Ten), Delaware (Colonial Athletic Association), Miami (OH) (Mid-American Conference), Rider (Northeast Conference) and Bucknell (Patriot League). The remaining three teams that were selected at-large (listed alphabetically) were Iowa, Louisville and Northwestern.

NCAA First and Second Round games will be played April 30 and May 2 at Penn State University in University Park, Pa. and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C. North Carolina will host the NCAA Semifinals and Final on May 7 and 9 at Karen Shelton Stadium.

At the end of March, ESPN and the NCAA announced the NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championship will be presented live on ESPN’s linear and digital networks through at least 2023. The NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championship Semifinals and Final will be available on an ESPN network for the first time since the 1987 championship, as the upcoming, rescheduled 2020 title game will be televised live on ESPNU on Sunday, May 9 in primetime at 7:00 p.m. ET. The semifinals, available on ESPN3, are set for Friday, May 7 at 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. ET. Additionally, the championship trophy presentation, immediately following the conclusion of the title game, will be carried on ESPN3.

2020 NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championship Bracket

Friday, April 30, 2021
NCAA First Round

Chapel Hill, N.C.

Miami vs. Stanford | 12:00 p.m. ET | GoHeels

Miami (13-1) received an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament after winning the Mid-American Conference (MAC) regular season title. They will travel to Chapel Hill, N.C. to take on Stanford (10-2), America East Conference Champions, in the NCAA First Round on Friday, April 30.

This is the RedHawks' fourth-consecutive and sixth overall NCAA Tournament appearance under head coach Iñako Puzo. In 2018, Miami won the second NCAA Tournament game in program history and earned the program's first NCAA Tournament shutout, defeating No. 24 Boston University by a 2-0 margin.

The Cardinal are coming off their fourth America East title in five season when they outlasted Monmouth, 2-1, in double overtime. Saturday's championship game was the latest chapter in a recent hard-fought rivalry that has developed between Stanford and Monmouth. Sarah Johnson's game-winner in the 77th minute came on her only shot attempt of the game, connecting on a pinpoint feed from Corinne Zanolli following a penalty corner. Meanwhile, Zanolli found the cage twice in the game's first nine minutes, with her first score coming off an assist from Lily Croddick and her second goal off a penalty stroke. A three-time America East Offensive Player of the Year and the most prolific goal scorer in school history, Zanolli has scored 17 goals this season and 91 in her career over 76 games. Zanolli was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

Stanford is making their 18th NCAA Tournament appearance overall and 11th over the last 14 seasons. The Cardinal are 2-17 all-time in NCAA competition. This is a rematch of the 2019 NCAA Tournament Opening Round, a game that Stanford won, 3-1.

The winner of this NCAA First Round game will face top-seed North Carolina in the second round on Sunday, May, 2.

Northwestern vs. Delaware | 3:00 p.m. ET | GoHeels

Northwestern (11-5) secured a berth in the NCAA Tournament after earning one of the at-large spots. The Wildcats will face off against Delaware (6-3), the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Champion, in the second NCAA First Round game in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Friday, April 30.

This marks the second-consecutive season in which the Wildcats has earned an NCAA Tournament appearance. It marks the 16th tournament appearance in program history and fourth under head coach Tracey Fuchs, who also became the program's all-time winningest head coach earlier this season. Northwestern's tournament resume includes an 11-5 record on the season, with a pair of wins over No. 2 Iowa at Lakeside Field to close out the regular season, followed by a 2-1 win over No. 8 Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament to secure a berth in Big Ten semifinals for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. Earlier in the season, the Wildcats also posted three-straight overtime victories including a 1-0  win at Michigan, who earned the No. 2 overall seed in the tournament field.

The Blue Hens clinched the program's ninth CAA title and seventh in 8 years after a thrilling overtime win over James Madison on Saturday. The 3-2 victory saw James Madison go up in the first four minutes of the game. They extended their lead just one minute into the third, but Delaware responded by cutting the deficit in the 39th minute off a shot from the top of the circle. As the clock was winding down, the Blue Hens were trailing but Julia Duffhuis scored the game-tying goal off a penalty corner with less than a minute left to play to send the game into overtime. Femke Strien scored the game winning goal 6:56 into the extra period. 

The winner of this NCAA First Round game will face No. 4 Iowa in the second round on Sunday, May, 2.

University Park, Pa.

Virginia Commonwealth vs. Bucknell | 12:00 p.m. ET | LionVision

For the first time in program history, Virginia Commonwealth (9-0) is playing in the NCAA Tournament. They secured an automatic bid with a 2-0 win over St. Joseph's in the Atlantic 10 (A10) Championship on Saturday. The Rams will take on Bucknell (5-3), Patriot League Champions, in the NCAA First Round on Friday, April 30.

The Rams enter the tournament with a perfect 9-0 record. Against the Hawks in the A10 Final, the first half saw the opposition hold most of the pressure. This forced goalkeeper Sasha Elliot, A10 Tournament Most Outstanding Player, to make five saves to keep the game scoreless. Under two minutes into the fourth quarter, VCU scored off a collected rebound. Saint Joseph's pulled their goalkeeper with 4:30 left in regulation but the Rams doubled the advantage on a redirect into an empty net.

The Bison captured the program's first-ever Patriot League Title and also will be making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament after defeating top-seeded Boston U. in overtime. Bucknell was dominant throughout the game, outshooting the Terriers 15 to 6 and earning 14 penalty corners to Boston's five. They were awarded three consecutive penalty corners in the extra period, and it was on the third that the game-winning shot was scored.

VCU and Bucknell have met four time over the the years, and the Bison hold a 3-1 edge in the series. These teams last played in September 2019, where Bucknell won the match-up, 2-1.

The winner of this NCAA First Round game will face No. 2 Michigan in the second round on Sunday, May, 2.

Connecticut vs. Rider | 3:00 p.m. ET | LionVision

Connecticut (11-1) won their ninth straight BIG EAST Tournament Title to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament, their 32nd appearance. They will head to University Park, Pa. to take on Rider (6-1), Northeast Conference Champions, in the NCAA First Round on Friday, April 30.

The Huskies improved to an astounding 48-11 all-time in BIG EAST Tournament play and the finals appearance was their 19th in a row. A quick start and early goal in the 2nd minute of play was all Connecticut needed on their way to a 2-0 win against Old Dominion. Connecticut's defense put together a dominant performance, holding the Monarchs to just three shots without allowing ODU to create a single penalty corner opportunity.

The Broncs are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012 and their seventh under Head Coach Lori Hussong. Rider earned the Northeast Conference's automatic bid to NCAA's with a convincing 5-0 win over LIU in the NEC Championship Game this past Thursday.

The winner of this NCAA First Round game will face No. 3 Louisville in the second round on Sunday, May, 2.

Sunday, May 2, 2021
NCAA Quarterfinals

Chapel Hill, N.C.

#1 North Carolina vs. Stanford | 12:00 p.m. ET | GoHeels

NCAA Tournament ranked No. 1 North Carolina (16-1) will play Stanford, who defeated Miami 5-4 in overtime in the NCAA First Round.

For the third year in a row, the Tar Heels earned the top seed overall. North Carolina reached the field through the Atlantic Coast Conference's Automatic Qualifier with a 3-2 double overtime win over Wake Forest. They are making their 18th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and a record 37th overall. 

Two-time defending National Championships, the Tar Heels finished the 2019 season undefeated (23-0) while claiming the program's eighth title with a 6-1 win over Princeton.

The Cardinal kept their season alive by topping Miami in a high-scoring overtime game. The match started fast, where Miami got on the board within the first minute of play. Stanford countered and Corinne Zanolli scored in the 12th minute off a penalty corner. Ten minutes later, Zanolli scored unassisted for her second goal before Julia Porto added one to put the Cardinal in front 3-1 at halftime. Midway through the third period, Miami cut the deficit to 3-2 but Porto answered four minutes later. Miami turned up the pressure late in the game and capitalized on a player advantage situation, locking the score at 4-4 and forcing overtime. Zanolli's third goal and game-winner came just 2:51 into the extra period off a penalty corner drag flick.

Stanford are making their 18th NCAA appearance overall, and improved to 3-17 in all-time NCAA competition. These teams last played in the 2019 NCAA Tournament where North Carolina won, 4-0.

The winner of this NCAA Quarterfinal game will advance to the semifinals on Friday, May 7.

#4 Iowa vs. Northwestern | 3:00 p.m. ET | GoHeels

NCAA Tournament ranked No. 4 Iowa (11-5) will play Northwestern,  who defeated Delaware 4-1 in the NCAA First Round game.

The Hawkeyes received an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, after falling in the Big Ten Tournament to eventual winners, Michigan, in the semifinal round. They are making their consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

For the first time since 2017, Northwestern advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals with their win over Delaware. They also tied a program record with its largest NCAA Tournament win with the 4-1 victory. The three-goal win was tied for the highest margin of victory in program history with a 3-0 win over Stanford in the first round in 1986. The four goals scored tied the most in an NCAA Tournament game in program history with the Wildcats' very first NCAA Tournament contest, a 4-2 win over Virginia 1982. The 'Cats got on the board first with a shot to the top of the cage, just three minutes in. Northwestern was able to maintain offensive possession for the rest of the first quarter, getting up three more shots. The second quarter was slow for both teams, but Northwestern was once again able to control the pace of play and maintain possession for much of the quarter. Despite going down a player with a five minute yellow card in the third frame, Bente Baekers ended the scoring drought with a shorthanded goal off a penalty corner and put Northwestern up 2-0. Maddie Zimmer quickly followed with just a minute left in the third. She sent in a hard shot from the top of the circle and gave the 'Cats a decisive lead. Baekers opened up the final quarter with another goal off a penalty corner to seal the game for the Wildcats. With just ten minutes left to play, Delaware managed a tally.

When Iowa and Northwestern met in the regular season, the Wildcats won both games by a one goal margin, 2-1 and 1-0.

The winner of this NCAA Quarterfinal game will advance to the semifinals on Friday, May 7.

University Park, Pa.

#2 Michigan vs. Bucknell | 12:00 p.m. ET | LionVision

NCAA Tournament ranked No. 2 Michigan (13-2) will play Bucknell, who defeated Virginia Commonwealth 2-1 in double overtime in the NCAA First Round.

The Wolverines earned their spot in the NCAA Tournament after capturing the program's seventh Big Ten Title with a 4-0 win over Ohio State. The game broke open in the second quarter, where Michigan scored three goals. An insurance goal was added in the fourth through Halle O'Neill, Big Ten Tournament Most Valuable Player, off a penalty corner to seal the win.

The Bison advanced to the quarterfinals with their first-ever NCAA Tournament game and win. Bucknell regrouped after falling behind 1-0 in the second quarter and scored the game-typing goal in the third frame. After neither teams could find the back ofthe net in the fourth or the first overtime, Mary Kate Stefanowicz scored on a penalty corner with 13.5 seconds left in the second overtime for her second goal of the game to give the Bison the victory.

The winner of this NCAA Quarterfinal game will advance to the semifinals on Friday, May 7.

#3 Louisville vs. Connecticut | 3:00 p.m. ET | LionVision

NCAA Tournament ranked No. 3 Louisville (13-5) will play, who defeated Rider 5-0 in the NCAA First Round game.

The Cardinals received an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, their sixth in the last seven years, and this year marks the ninth appearance in the tournament. It is also the highest national seed ranking after earning No. 4 in 2019. Louisville won the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) fall regular season title and posted runner-up finish in the 2020 fall championship. 

The Huskies had a solid scoring performance behind a hat trick from Claire van den Noort. She started the scoring with just nine seconds remaining in the first quarter, deflecting in a shot. She added her second goal in the second quarter. Another goal from Sophie Hamilton came off a penalty corner in the third quarter. She added an assist on van den Noort's third goal at 56:06 in the fourth. Hamilton capped the scoring with just nine second left in the game. UConn outshot Rider, 19 to 4, and held a 7 to 2 advantage in corners.

These teams last met in 2015, where Connecticut beat Louisville, 3-0.

The winner of this NCAA Quarterfinal game will advance to the semifinals on Friday, May 7.

Friday, May 7, 2021
NCAA Semifinals

Chapel Hill, N.C.

#1 North Carolina vs. #4 Iowa | TBD p.m. ET | ESPN3 

#2 Michigan vs. #3 Louisville | TBD p.m. ET | ESPN3

Sunday, May 9, 2021
NCAA Final 

TBD vs. TBD | 7:00 p.m. ET | ESPNU