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Stanford Field Hockey’s season is over, and it may be their last

@StanfordFH

Stanford University Women’s Field Hockey’s season is done. It’s likely that so, too, is their program. 

The Field Hockey program was one of 11 cut by Stanford prior to the 2020-21 academic year, with the school citing finances and “competitive excellence” as their reasons for dismantling the programs.

Prior to Sunday’s loss in the NCAA tournament to top-ranked North Carolina in the Elite Eight, Stanford Field Hockey won its second-straight America East Championship and its fourth in the past five seasons. 

Stanford competed in the NCAA tournament with a stripe through their school’s name in continuation of a season-long protest. The statement echoes the all-black unitards Stanford wrestlers wore at the NCAA championships, including the wrestling team’s second-ever national champion, Shane Griffith. 

Following the loss, UNC Field Hockey tweeted in support of Stanford’s program.

Prior to their game against the Cardinal earlier in the tournament, the Miami Redhawks were seen holding a banner in support of the program.

A group of Stanford alumni called 36 Sports Strong has formed to try and reverse the university’s decision. So far, it has received more than $50 million in pledges to save the sports. The group, with advocates Andrew Luck (football), Julie Foudy (soccer), Kerri Walsh Jennings (volleyball), Josh Childress (basketball), Janet Evans (swimming) and Michelle Wie (golf), believes they will be able to raise enough money to allow the sports to become financially self-sustaining. 

However, their efforts have been met with staunch refusal by the administration to discuss possible solutions. The administration alleges that 36 Sports Strong’s financial evaluation is inaccurate.

“Discontinuing sports was an extremely painful decision, and it was driven by the financial challenges of supporting twice as many varsity teams as the Division I average at the level we believe is essential for our student-athletes to excel,” said a Stanford spokesperson. “The fundraising numbers cited by groups that have organized to reinstate individual sports and all 11 sports have significantly underestimated the total amount of funding required to support the programs they wish to reinstate and, in most cases, do not appear to be accounting for the need to adhere to Title IX gender equity requirements.”

But some don’t believe the decision was truly financial. Others have pointed to admissions as a potential issue, as the roughly 850 athletes make up 12 percent of the undergraduate population. While each athlete holds impressive academic achievements, the admissions threshold for a recruited athlete is not as stringent as the general population, resulting in the belief that the decision to cut the sports was to open up 240 admissions slots to students with different academic profiles. 

The idea that “competitive excellence” was a factor has fallen flat as the cut programs have excelled in their respective sports during their seasons. 

Yet the university has remained strong in asserting that the cuts were about finances and competitive excellence. 

As for Stanford Field Hockey, the program certainly isn’t going quietly. So far, the petition to save Stanford’s field hockey team has garnered almost 20,000 signatures.

Seattle Reign sale finalized, acquired for $58 million

The Seattle Reign have officially been sold. (Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Seattle Reign have officially been sold, with the OL Groupe selling the club to an ownership group that includes MLS’s Seattle Sounders and private equity firm the Carlyle Group.

The team was sold for a reported $58 million, after being acquired by OL Groupe in 2019 for $3.5 million.

"It's all about the potential going forward," Alex Popov of the Carlyle Groupe told ESPN. "And frankly, our starting point was off. You know, that's what attracted a lot of us to, including ourselves here at Carlyle, to think about investing in women's sport. We have seen the potential."

The valuation is the latest of rising numbers in the NWSL. San Diego Wave FC is in the process of a sale that values the team between $113 and $120 million. 

In the sale announcement, chief business officer of the Reign Maya Mendoza-Exstrom said that the team has no plans to move from Lumen Field. 

"It feels a little bit like we have the gritty startup mentality of an expansion franchise in this exciting moment, but we have this benefit of having a dedicated fan base that has been dedicated to this club, even though it has moved a ton and changed a ton over the last few years," she told ESPN. "So, I think the opportunity just to root this club in place -- Lumen is our home. The club's not moving anywhere."

Katie Ledecky punches ticket to Paris, fourth Olympics

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JUNE 15: Katie Ledecky celebrates after winning the Women's 400 LC Meter Freestyle during the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Katie Ledecky is officially on to her fourth straight Olympics, punching her ticket to Paris in the 400-meter freestyle on Saturday. 

But Ledecky’s wasn’t the only name in the headlines in Indianapolis. Virginia’s Gretchen Walsh set a World Record in the 100-meter butterfly on Saturday in the semifinal. And roughly 24 hours later, she was an Olympian, taking first in the event. 

"I was definitely nervous," Walsh said. "There were a lot of what-ifs. Coming off breaking the world record, I was thinking, 'Do I need to do that again just to make the team? What if I get third? What's that even even going to look like?'"

She later added that she “couldn’t ask for a better start” to the meet. 

Both Torri Huske and Regan Smith were under the previous American record placing second and third respectively. But Smith, whose time would’ve won her silver at the Tokyo Olympics, won’t swim the event in Paris after placing third. 

And in front of a record crowd, 46-year-old Gabrielle Rose proved that age is just a number. She set a best time in the 100-meter breaststroke en route to advancing to the semifinals of the event. There, she finished in 10th place – and with another best time. 

“I’m just hoping to show people you can do more, you’re capable of doing more,” Rose, a two-time Olympian, said. “You can have more energy, you can have more strength than you thought was possible. I want women in particular to not be afraid to be strong, to lift weights, to take care of themselves and just know that they can have a lot more in the older chapters of their lives.”

WNBA’s Rookie of the Year race heats up

WASHINGTON, DC -  JUNE 6: Angel Reese #5 of the Chicago Sky and Aaliyah Edwards #24 of the Washington Mystics after the game on June 6, 2024 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

The WNBA continues to make waves this season, with the 2024 rookie class continuing to impress. 

Sky forward Angel Reese has registered six straight double-doubles, tying the longest streak for a rookie even as Chicago skids to a four-game losing streak. It’s also tied for the most by a rookie in WNBA history alongside Tina Charles and Cindy Brown.

Reese is the only rookie to average a double-double this season. But Mystics rookie Aaliyah Edwards has been averaging near a double-double this month, as Washington rattled off two back-to-back wins after a franchise-worst 0-12 start.

Kamilla Cardoso has been solid in her start to the season, registering her first professional double-double on Sunday with 10 points and 10 rebounds. 

Caitlin Clark has had a solid month for the Fever, leading the rookies with an average of 14.0 points per game. On Sunday, she neared a triple-double with 23 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds in the Fever’s win over Chicago. 

And after an abysmal start amidst a tough stretch of games, the Fever have now won four out of their last six games, with last year's Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston getting into the groove with scoring.

In Los Angeles, rookie duo Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson have been putting together a solid season, with both netting 16 points apiece in the team’s loss to Atlanta on Sunday.

Those looking for a clear frontrunner for rookie of the year won’t get one: Clark (assists), Reese (rebounds, steals), and Brink (blocks) each currently sit in the top five league-wide in a number of key stats.

13th NWSL Match Weekend Dominated by Draws

NWSL Washington Spirit's Croix Bethune celebrates her stoppage-time equalizer against San Diego Wave FC
Washington's Croix Bethune celebrates her stoppage-time equalizer against San Diego. (Amber Searls/USA TODAY Sports)

The NWSL's weekend action brought with it no separation on the table, as five of the weekend's seven games ended in draws.

Three of those matches finished without a single goal, as Houston, Angel City, Orlando, North Carolina, Seattle, and Portland all came down to 0-0 draws. Only Gotham and Utah earned wins, with the New York/New Jersey side passing the Thorns to claim fourth place in the standings. 

For the Royals, the 1-0 win over Bay FC ends a 10-game winless streak. Utah now sits one point behind Seattle at the bottom of the table.

Despite the split points, two games did provide some fireworks by way of epic stoppage-time comebacks. Center back Sam Staab had her first goal in a Red Stars uniform, helping Chicago save a point in Kansas City in the 90th minute.

Washington also saved a result in the nick of time, as a masterful 96th-minute Croix Bethune strike got the best of talented Wave FC center-back Naomi Girma to finish things off at 1-1.

As for the Golden Boot leaderboard, only Temwa Chawinga managed to make a move on the leaderboard, with a goal against Chicago tying her with Orlando’s Barbra Banda for second.

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