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The Road to Storrs, Conn. to capture the NCAA Tournament title kicks off Wednesday. On display are some of the best field hockey players in Division I. With their elite stick skills and high hockey IQ, they are destined to put on a show as to why they deserve to win the coveted national championship. From decorated veterans to exciting newcomers, these athletes are ready to showcase their talent.
Here are FAN’s players to watch:
Chapel Hill Regional
Erin Matson – North Carolina
She is the only five-time Conference Player of the Year and all-time scoring leader in ACC history. Matson enters her fifth and final postseason with the goal of winning her fourth national title. The fifth year forward is currently second in the country in scoring with 22 goals. She earned All-ACC Tournament honors after leading North Carolina to an unprecedented sixth ACC Tournament title.
Lily Santi – St. Joes
After leading St. Joes with 17 goals and nine assists for 43 points, Santi was named A-10 Offensive Player of the Year. She ranks ninth in the country with 17 goals as she averaged .89 goals per game. The junior forward finished the A-10 tournament with one goal and two assists, earning MVP. Santi recorded six multi-point games so far this season.
Sky Caron – Wake Forest
After transferring from ACC rival Boston College, Caron has anchored a Wake Forest defense that allowed 1.15 goals per game. The fifth year back has also made an impact offensively with eight goals and five assists for 21 points. Caron posted a team-best: four game-winners so far this season.
Julia Duffhuis – Delaware
Duffhuis earned Defensive Player of the Year after tallying 12 goals and three assists for 27 points. She scored a hat trick in Delaware’s semifinal win over Northeastern.
Maddie Kahn – Lehigh
Kahn was named Patriot League Most Valuable Player after a shootout and overtime win to propel Lehigh to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance as she made 20 saves. The senior goalkeeper holds a 1.85 goals-against average and .764 save percentage, which earned her All-Patriot League Second Team.
Lauren Wadas – Northwestern
Wadas earned Big Ten All-Tournament honors after scoring twice in the Big Ten Tournament, including in the Big Ten Championship against Michigan. The junior midfielder has tallied six goals and three assists for 15 points so far this season. Wadas plays with an edge in the midfield and has scored a goal in the last three of four games.
Taryn Tkachuk – Virginia
Coming into the ACC tournament with two goals on the season, Tkachuk scored two crucial goals in Virginia’s run to the ACC Championship – the game-winner against Louisville and the game-tying goal against Wake Forest. The sophomore forward tallied 10 points so far this season and her heating up is good news for the Cavaliers.
Anthe Nijziel – Iowa
An anchor in the Iowa backfield since her freshman year, Nijziel is a key leader as Iowa looks to make a postseason run. The fifth year back has tallied six goals and four assists for 16 points so far this season. She earned First Team All-Big Ten honors after logging 994 minutes.
Paula Pena Martinez – Miami
The junior forward tallied a hat trick in the MAC Championship game to prevail Miami to their fifth consecutive tournament championship. Pena Martinez was named to the All-Tournament Team after scoring four goals. She enters the NCAA Tournament on a two-game goal streak.
Indy Zoontjens – Rider
Zoontjens won NEC Rookie of the Year after tallying 12 goals and 12 assists with four game-winning goals, second on the team. She scored the game-tying goal in the NEC Championship that eventually forced overtime. She has been kept off the scoresheet only five games this season.
College Park Regional
Hope Rose – Maryland
Despite missing some time in October, Rose has returned to be an offensive spark for Maryland as she leads with 14 goals and 36 points. She has recorded a goal in four straight games heading into the NCAA Tournament. She earned Big Ten All-Tournament honors after she scored twice.
Beth Yeager – Princeton
The sophomore midfielder led Princeton in scoring for a second straight season with 12 goals and eight assists for 32 points with three game-winner goals. Yeager was only kept off the score sheet twice this season and enters the postseason with a five-game point streak.
Charlotte de Vries –Syracuse
The senior forward tallied a career-high in assists (12) and points (36), along with scoring six game-winners. de Vries earned Second Team All-ACC honors as she ranks second on the team in scoring. The Malvern, Pa. native enters the NCAA tournament with a two-game point streak.
Bethany Dykema – Liberty
The senior back scored the game-winner for Liberty as they clinched their second straight Big East Tournament title against Old Dominion. Dykema ranks third on the team with eight goals and 11 assists for 27 points as she has started all 19 contests so far this season. She anchors a defense that allowed 1.05 goals per game and recorded 10 shutouts.
Ann Arbor Regional
Lora Clarke – Michigan
Clarke leads a young Michigan squad in scoring with 11 goals and three assists for 25 points. She did not register a point in the Big Ten Tournament, but she was instrumental in drawing a corner that resulted in Brynn Zorilla’s game-winning goal. In a career year for the junior forward, she will look to continue it into the NCAA tournament.
Sophia Gladieux – Penn State
One of the most explosive goal scorers with her signature backhand shot, Gladieux won Big Ten Player and Offensive Player of the Year as she led the Nittany Lions with 21 goals for 45 points. Along with Mackenzie Allessie, they have been the driving force behind the Penn State offense and look to fuel a run to the National Championship.
Sasha Elliott – Louisville
The graduate transfer from VCU earned All-ACC First Team honors after maintaining 1.25 goals against average and .795 save percentage. Elliott earned three shutouts and gave up a goal or less in 13 games this season. She has been an anchor in the cage for Louisville so far this season.
Blanca Orsola – UAlbany
Orsola scored the game-tying goal to force overtime in the American East Championship game, where UAlbany prevailed in a shootout. The sophomore midfielder has tallied three goals and 12 assists for 18 points so far this season. She enters the NCAA Tournament on a six-game point streak.