VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Compelling storylines are in place for this weekend’s 2013 NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship, hosted by Virginia Wesleyan College.
Three teams competing in Friday’s national semifinals are no strangers here. One team is making its national semifinals debut. And, there will be no repeat titlist. Defending champion Tufts was eliminated in the second round of this year’s NCAA tournament.So, choose from Bowdoin, Christopher Newport, Salisbury and Skidmore. These four semifinalists have triumphed thus far through the original 16-team NCAA tournament field, and, their next steps are the toughest yet.
Friday’s semifinals will be played at the USA Field Hockey National Training Center in Virginia Beach, Va. Sunday’s title game will be played at the L.R. Hill Sports Complex in Norfolk, Va.
Bowdoin and fourth-seeded Christopher Newport play Friday’s first semifinal at 11 a.m. Skidmore and second-seeded Salisbury play the second semifinal at 2 p.m.
The Bowdoin Polar Bears (16-3) are participating in their seventh national semifinal in the last nine years. They earned the slot by beating top-seeded Montclair State – the 2012 Division III runner-up – 1-0 on the road last Sunday.
The Polar Bears are some of the familiar faces here. Bowdoin won NCAA Division III titles in 2007-08 and 2010 – a three-out-of-four championship run. They come to this Final Four as the 2013 runner up in the New England Small College Athletic Conference tournament. Collectively, they lead Division III with a 3.36 scoring margin and an average of 3.11 assists per game.
The Christopher Newport Captains (21-1) are this year’s Final Four newcomers, snaring their first national semifinal berth with a 1-0 victory against Catholic in that quarterfinal match last Sunday. The Captains – selected to every NCAA Division III tournament field since 2006 – also claim a hometown fan base; the school is in nearby Newport News, a close drive from Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
To date, Christopher Newport’s 11 shutouts this season are a program high. Freshman goalkeeper Bailey Lien has an NCAA-record 20 victories. The Captains lost 1-0 to Salisbury in the Capital Athletic Conference tournament championship game.
The second-seeded Salisbury Sea Gulls (16-3) likely wear a bulls-eye heading into Friday’s semifinals. This is their 12th national semifinal appearance and their first since winning the 2009 Division III title. They beat Wellesley 4-1, at home, in last Sunday’s quarterfinal.
Salisbury won three consecutive Division III titles from 2003-05. The Sea Gulls have five overall; their first came in 1986. They beat Christopher Newport to win the 2013 Capital Athletic Conference tournament championship game, and, lead all Division III teams with a .62 goals-against average and a .872 save percentage
The Skidmore Thoroughbreds (19-3) are playing in their third national semifinal and their first since 2010. They beat Middlebury 3-2 on the road in last Sunday’s quarterfinal. They also won their eighth Liberty League conference tournament title earlier this season.