STANFORD, Calif.- Head coach Tara Danielson has announced the 2013 field hockey schedule, which features five contests against NCAA Tournament squads from last year and five television appearances on the Pac-12 Networks.
A total of eight teams ranked in the top-25 of the final 2012 Kookaburra/NFHCA Division I National Coaches poll appear on Stanford's schedule.
Stanford has become accustomed to playing such a highly-competitive slate during Danielson's tenure. The Cardinal is coming off another impressive campaign, reaching the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight year and capturing the NorPac Championship for the fifth time in six years. Stanford, which has been a fixture in the national rankings for all but one week over the last three years, navigated through a grueling non-conference schedule in 2012 and played four games against the nation's No. 1-ranked team at the time.
This year's 18-game slate begins with a four-match homestand, Stanford's longest stretch at the Varsity Turf since opening the 2006 campaign with five straight contests. The lid-lifter is an Aug. 31 matchup against Connecticut, which captured its 12th BIG EAST Tournament title last year en route to its 24th NCAA Tournament appearance. The Cardinal dropped a 1-0 decision to the Huskies last October and will be looking for its first victory in five attempts.
Two days later, Stanford hosts Michigan State in a Labor Day matinee. It will be the fourth straight year these two clubs have squared off, with the Spartans visiting the Varsity Turf for the first time since escaping with a 3-2 victory in 2010.
Stanford's contests against Connecticut and Michigan State will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks, with this year's five appearances representing a slight increase from last year's four showings.
The homestand concludes the following weekend with matchups against New Hampshire (Sept. 6) and VCU (Sept. 8). The Wildcats claimed last year's America East regular season championship while the Rams' 13 victories in 2012 represented the second-highest total in school history.
Next up is a trip to Iowa City, Iowa, where Stanford will square off against Iowa one day after a neutral-site game against Central Michigan. The Cardinal has held the upper hand recently, winning three in a row against the Hawkeyes, who advanced to their 22nd NCAA Tournament in school history last year.
A Sept. 20 home contest against California ushers in the start of NorPac play, which will once again feature a round-robin format among Western Division opponents. Stanford will look to continue its dominance of California, after sweeping all three meetings last year and having won 12 of the last 16 matchups in the overall series. The rematch is set for Oct. 31 in Berkeley, with both games televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
A challenging road trip to Albany, N.Y., will pit Stanford against 2012 NCAA Tournament participants Syracuse (Sept. 28) and Albany (Sept. 29). The Orange is coming off a 20-win campaign that ended with its second-ever Final Four appearance.
Conference play continues with an Oct. 4 tilt against Pacific, an opponent Stanford has defeated 13 straight times dating back to 2006. The Cardinal then faces UC Davis twice over a six-day span, traveling to Davis on Oct. 6 and hosting the Aggies on Oct. 11. Stanford returns to non-conference action two days later, hosting Yale.
Road games against traditional powers Wake Forest (Oct. 18) and Duke (Oct. 20) follow and represent late-season opportunities for Stanford to boost its RPI and enhance its postseason resume.
Stanford's final non-conference contest of the year comes against another NCAA powerhouse, as Michigan visits The Farm on Oct. 25 in a bout that will be televised on Pac-12 Networks. The Wolverines, who have made 11 NCAA Tournament appearances over the last 14 seasons, had won all six meetings in the all-time series before Stanford notched a 3-0 shutout in Ann Arbor two years ago.
The Cardinal hosts Pacific on Oct. 29 in a rare Tuesday contest representing Senior Night before the regular-season finale at California.The NorPac Championship will be hosted by Liberty, getting underway from Nov. 7-9 at Lynchburg, Va.