Nov. 19, 2004
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Michigan State's hope for its first-ever national title ended when the Spartans were defeated by Duke in the semifinals of the NCAA Field Hockey Championship. The Blue Devils eventually fell to three-time consecutive national champion Wake Forest, which hosted the final two rounds on Friday and Sunday, November 19 and 21 at Kentner Stadium.
Despite the loss, MSU's Veerle Goudswaard was honored as one of 11 members of the 2004 NCAA All-Tournament team. In three rounds of play, Goudswaard notched six goals for the Spartans to rank second in the NCAA records book for most goals scored in tournament play.
For the fourth straight year, at least one Big Ten team advanced to the NCAA Championship semifinals with Michigan State earning a spot this season. Michigan advanced to the semifinals in 2001 and 2003, while Penn State and the Spartans also claimed spots in 2002. The League record for consecutive years in the round of four was set from 1983 to 1990 when either Iowa or Northwestern represented the Big Ten in the semfinals for eight straight seasons.
Three Big Ten programs were awarded bids to the 16-team field of the 2004 Championship, as the Spartans advanced out of hostile territory with two wins in Ann Arbor, Mich. Big Ten Tournament Champion and No. 4 seed Michigan earned the right to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Championship on its home field and welcomed in-state rival Michigan State (which shared the Big Ten Championship with UM and Iowa), Pacific and Boston College to Ocker Field.
MSU came into this year's tournament looking to avenge two earlier losses to the Wolverines. In last year's NCAA second round, Michigan defeated the Spartans, 2-1, while also nabbing a 1-0 overtime victory in regular season play this season. Michigan State opened with a 4-0 shutout over Boston College before the Wolverines defeated Pacific, 2-1, in overtime to set up the second round grudge match. Goudswaard would lead the Spartans to a 3-2 victory over their in-state foe, while also breaking the all-time school record for single-season goals to advance to the national semifinals. Iowa was the third Conference team to qualify for the NCAA Championship, but fell to American, 2-1, in the first round at College Park, Md.
The Big Ten has accumulated great success in the NCAA Championship, sending at least three teams to the national tournament in five of the last six seasons (1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004). The Conference has produced two national titles in field hockey, as Iowa claimed the League's first national crown in 1986 and Michigan ended a 14-year drought with the 2001 national championship.