As UConn students, we’re all aware of how our school stands athletically as the basketball capital of the world, with 14 total national championships (and counting). With basketball season just a few days away, there’s already a palpable buzz on campus, and rightly so. Winning basketball national championships is what we do best.
But basketball isn’t the only team students should be excited about this week. As good as we are at basketball, there are a few other teams on campus that deserve some great support in their playoff push as the fall sports come to an end.
After plowing through regular season play like usual and finishing with an 18-0 record, the field hockey team, led by legendary head coach Nancy Stevens, captured their fourth-straight Big East tournament championship over the weekend with a 7-3 blowout over Temple. The Huskies now enter the NCAA tournament on a quest for their third-straight national championship. They start that journey Saturday at home against Louisville at 11:30 a.m.
Coach Stevens’ team is nothing short of phenomenal. They boast the highest scoring average in the country with 6.15 goals per game and also lead the nation in scoring margin, beating opponents by an average of 5.55 goals per game. The Huskies are lead by Charlotte Veitner, who leads the country with 38 goals and is second in the country and assists per game with 1.05. The sophomore forward is the Breanna Stewart of her sport, a dominant scorer that other teams simply have no answer to.
Field hockey isn’t the only team heading into a NCAA tournament this weekend. The women’s soccer team heads into the tournament looking for revenge after suffering a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Cincinnati. The Huskies will take on Siena at Morrone Stadium this Sunday at 1 p.m.
Rachel Hill serves as the Huskies’ primary scoring threat, tying for the conference lead with 13 goals to win American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year. However, Hill isn’t the only threat on the UConn offense. Senior Sam McGuire has seven goals on the season and has become an elite threat with her ability to bury headers off corner kicks. UConn plays defense too, led by the American Goalkeeper of the Year Emily Armstrong, who posted a 0.85 goals against average in 19 games.
Last but not least, even though it isn’t this weekend, the home football game Nov. 21st against No. 16 Houston needs to be packed and rowdy for what is arguably the biggest football game in the post-Randy Edsall era. Since taking the reins last season, head coach Bob Diaco has managed to make a 2-10 team from last year a game away from bowl eligibility this season, sitting at 5-5 overall.
Quarterback Bryant Shirreffs has added an entirely new dimension to the offense, allowing the Huskies to be effective both in the passing game and in the running game due to his ability to make plays with his legs. Arkeel Newsome has shined in his sophomore season in the backfield, hauling in short passes for big gains and breaking off long runs. Defensively, the Huskies are as good as ever, led by Jamar Summers’ six interceptions as well as superb play from safeties Andrew Adams and Obi Melifonwu.
Diaco’s success isn’t unexpected, as he was brought in to turn around a program that reached a BCS bowl just five seasons ago, but it’s the pace at which he’s turned this team around that is exciting. Few experts or fans predicted the Huskies to have a shot at a bowl game this season. The fact that they do with two games left is an accomplishment within itself.
With basketball season fast approaching, it’s easy to overlook some of the less followed fall teams and a football team that has been nothing short of awful the last few years. But these teams are just as talented and exciting to watch. As their seasons come to a close and their journey to bring home a trophy begins, the teams need as much support from the students as possible. Not to mention, a packed house for all UConn events, but especially football and soccer, show that UConn fans are serious about supporting their team, something that always looks good as we try to move to a Power Five conference such as the Big Ten.
Who doesn’t love being in a packed stadium, getting loud and rooting for UConn? Even though it’s a busy time for most students with exams and projects, the time to support our teams is now. Just like our basketball teams, they have their mind set on bringing home a national championship. If that isn’t a motive to get behind, then I don’t know what is. After all, that’s what we do best here at UConn.