Nov. 26, 2003
Michigan's run for a second field hockey national title was halted in the NCAA Championship semifinals, as the Wolverines were edged by top seed and eventual national champion Wake Forest. In a game that featured the last two NCAA titlists, the 2001 champions from Ann Arbor were narrowly defeated, 1-0, by the Demon Deacons, who went on to claim their second straight national crown. Despite the loss, Michigan's Katy Moyner was honored as one of 11 members of the 2003 NCAA All-Tournament team. The University of Massachusetts hosted the final two rounds of the 2003 NCAA Championship on Friday and Sunday, November 21 and 23, at Richard F. Garber Field in Amherst, Massachusetts.
For just the third time in Conference history, at least one Big Ten team advanced to the NCAA Field Hockey Championship semifinals for a third straight season, as Michigan earned a spot in the round of four with a pair of victories in the opening rounds. The Big Ten has sent three different programs to the national semifinals in the past three seasons, as Michigan State and Penn State were two of the final four teams standing in 2002 and Michigan moved on to the round of four in 2001 on the way to a national title. The last time the Conference sent a team to the national semifinals in three consecutive seasons was in 1992 (Iowa), 1993 (Iowa and Penn State) and 1994 (Iowa and Northwestern). 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 semifinals for eight straight seasons.
Three Big Ten programs were awarded bids to the 16-team field of the 2003 NCAA Championship, as the Wolverines advanced out of hostile territory with two wins in East Lansing, Michigan. Big Ten Tournament Champion Michigan State earned the right to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Championship on its home field and welcomed in-state rival Michigan (which shared the Big Ten Championship), fourth-seeded North Carolina and Louisville to the MSU Field Hockey Complex. The Wolverines opened with a 2-1 upset of the higher-ranked Tar Heels before the Spartans blanked the Cardinals, 2-0, to set up a second-round grudge match. The two teams had previously met in East Lansing on November 17 when UM handed MSU its lone Conference defeat, 1-0. The results were similar in the rematch, as Michigan knocked off its in-state foes, 2-1, to advance to the national semifinals. Penn State was the third Conference program to qualify for the NCAA Championship, as the Nittany Lions defeated Princeton in the first round before falling to third-seeded Maryland on the Terrapins home field.
The Big Ten qualified three teams for the NCAA Field Hockey Championship for a third straight year for the first time in League annals this season. The Conference has earned three or more bids in back-to-back seasons only one other time when League-record four squads were picked in 1994 after three programs qualified in 1993. The Big Ten has now sent at least three teams to the NCAA Championship in four of the last five seasons (1999, 2001, 2002, 2003).
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.