CNU will host the 2023 NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship

Why dropping anchor at home is good news for the future Captains

~Matthew Morhiser, Sports Editor~

Earlier this month on Oct. fourteenth, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced the hosting sites for over 450 preliminary rounds and final locations for championship games for their diverse catalog of competitive college sports. In an effort of looking towards the future, the NCAA mapped out the most winning teams’ destinations from the 2022-23 seasons onward till the 2025-26 seasons. 

Of course the NCAA’s list included the future sites for their Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship tournament, but it also set in stone a location that is more relevant to the Christopher Newport University (CNU) and Newport News community than any other revealed site. CNU will host the 2023 NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship. The semifinals and championship game, the final two rounds of the tournament, will play out in 2023 here on campus at Jennings Family Stadium. The Division III Field Hockey Championships have been the pinnacle of excellence and the prime example of far beyond the standard for nearly four decades now. Since 1981, 39 champions have been crowned, and for the first time since 2010, the CNU Field Hockey team will have the opportunity to do something that has not been done in Division III Field Hockey since 1999. In 2023, the Captains can win the championship in their own backyard. 

As mentioned above, Jennings Family Stadium will play host to the division’s final meeting between the two top contenders, and it marks the first time a competition of such foremost prestigiousness will occur at the stadium. Opened only in the fall of last year, Jennings Family Stadium was constructed to act as the home site for CNU’s Field Hockey and Lacrosse teams respectively. The stadium, which was named after the Jennings family who have been advocates of CNU athletics for some time, marked a transition from a beatdown old turf to one which could only be defined as state of the art. 

According to our very own, the stadium is 130 yards long and 85 yards wide. It is comprised of Shaw Sports Artificial Turf, which, according to their official website, is used professionally by the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays. Additionally, Jennings Family Stadium holds a maximum of 1,000 spectators, and it solved a problem that was plaguing the field hockey and lacrosse teams prior to its opening. The stadium is parallel to TowneBank Stadium instead of being perpendicular, a problem fixed from the teams’ prior field. What may seem like a small detail actually accounts for a dramatic reduction of sun encroachment and notable increase in direct visibility for players, coaches and fans alike. 

As briefly specified earlier, 2023 will not be the first time CNU has hosted the Division III Field Hockey Championship. In 2010, this university saw 24 of Division III’s best field hockey teams travel to Newport News to stake their claim for the title. Ultimately, Bowdoin College brought back a championship to their homebase in Brunswick, ME after defeating Mechanicsburg, PA’s Messiah University by a score of 2-1. The game went to a second overtime, and it was finally decided by a penalty stroke. The deciding goal was scored by Bowdoin’s substitute McKenna Teague on Messiah’s goalkeeper Kayleigh Stewart after nearly an hour and a half of play. Bowdoin’s win marked their third field hockey championship, and their first since winning in two consecutive years from 2007-08. 

CNU hosted the semifinal matchups as well, but our university was also the location for an early matchup between the 2010 Captains team and the aptly named Lynchburg College of Lynchburg, VA. CNU was eliminated by the Hornets after the final horn sounded and the scoreboard read 1-0. The game’s only goal was scored at the 42:34 minute mark by Lynchburg’s Jenny Weir on an assist from her teammate Kristina Morris. The Captains’ goalkeeper and now alumni Brittany Bradsher had seven saves on the day, but the one allowed goal was enough to send CNU packing. In retrospect, the trip back home could not have been too strenuous. 

While it can not be predicted how the future Captains will perform in 2023, the recent history and record of CNU’s Varsity Field Hockey team is enough to presume ensuing success is undoubtedly within question. In 2006, the team reached the Elite Eight, or quarterfinals, of the NCAA Tournament after posting a regular season record of 14-4. Their most impressive win came when they defeated the seventh ranked team in the country, Salisbury University, after losing to them in the second game of their season. Two years later, the Captains made the tournament again, but this time they were eliminated in the round of 16 by The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). Last season, CNU posted a record of 14-5 with an unblemished 8-0 record when playing at home. It remains to be seen if CNU will carry that same mental and physical prowess when playing at Jennings Family Stadium in 2023. Still, the Captains are certainly off on the right foot. 

Information on the 2023 NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship obtained from:

Information on Jennings Family Stadium obtained from:

Information on prior NCAA Tournaments and last year’s record obtained from:

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