Finals Week: End-of-semester grades for UConn athletics, sport by sport

Members of the UConn field hockey team celebrate after a goal during the team's NCAA Tournament first-round game against Louisville at the Sherman Family Sports Complex in Storrs, Connecticut on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

Finals are coming and so are your final grades. For The Daily Campus sports staff, we also wanted to give some grades out. Our beat writers gave out grades for each UConn team’s performance up to this point in the year. This is what we came up with:

Field Hockey

Grade: A-  •  Bryan Lambert, Campus Correspondent

What other grade can you give a perfect season that fell just short of a championship? Despite losing to Syracuse in the national semifinals, UConn was one of the best teams in the nation in 2015. Three different players received All-America team recognition, with Roisin Upton and Charlotte Veitner on the first team and Anna Middendorf on the third team. Veitner set a new single-season record with 99 points, and Upton captained a defense that let in just six goals all regular season.

Men’s Soccer

Grade: B-  •  Eddie Leonard, Staff Writer

This was a tough year for the UConn men’s soccer team because it was a rebuilding year. The team had a lot of young faces on the roster. The Huskies finished the season with an overall 10-6-6 record, one that must have been disappointing for someone like head coach Ray Reid.

However, Reid had to be impressed with the fight his team showed down the stretch. The team only lost one game in the final 10 matches. They did not advance very far in the NCAA Tournament, but they came a long way from the beginning of the season. Remember, it took them four games to score their first goal.

This team deserves a B- despite their record, due to the improvement of the young roster.

UConn junior forward Rachel Hill away from a Syracuse defender during the Huskies' game at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Connecticut on Sept. 3. 2015. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

Women’s Soccer

Grade: A-  •  Kyle Constable, Senior Staff Writer

UConn women’s soccer did almost exactly what it was expected to do in 2015. The Huskies (19-4) were picked to finish first in the American Athletic Conference. They finished as the regular season champions.

The Huskies were expected to advance farther than the second round of the NCAA Tournament, which is where their 2014 campaign ended. They beat out No. 10 Notre Dame in the second round to land themselves in a Sweet 16 matchup against a tremendously talented Rutgers squad.

The biggest disappointment? The team should not have fallen to Cincinnati in the conference tournament semifinals. Other than that small hiccup, the team is on pace to continue improving next season as a true national championship contender.

Women’s Hockey

Grade: B • Aaron Esposito, Staff Writer

The UConn women’s hockey team might not be elated with their 7-8-3 record, but it’s been their effort that gives them a solid B so far this season. Competing in a tough Hockey East conference, the Huskies have battled, often from behind, to stay in almost every game.

Thanks to strong goalie play from senior Elaine Chuli and sophomore Annie Belanger, UConn has become a team that never allows opponents to let their guard down. A mixture of newcomers and veteran players has shown flashes of greatness on offense, although they have slumped at times.

It’s hard to give a team that never quits anything less than a B, but their overall record hasn’t warranted anything higher.

Men’s Hockey

Grade: C  •  Tyler Keating, Staff Writer

Ask this question a week ago when the Huskies were riding an eight-game losing streak, and you might get a different answer. However, the team erased that streak last weekend by sweeping No. 5 UMass-Lowell in a home-and-home series to improve its record to 5-10-0 overall.

Looking at the schedule and the standings now, UConn has done what we expected them to do: take down a few top-tier Hockey East opponents despite sitting near the bottom of the league’s extremely competitive standings. Freshmen Maxim Letunov and Tage Thompson have delivered on their scoring potential immediately, and Rob Nichols has been a rock-solid netminder but unfortunately the team as a whole has not shown real improvement over last year’s squad.

Volleyball

Grade: B+  •  Antonio Salazar, Campus Correspondent

After being picked to finish eighth in the coaches preseason rankings, the Huskies finished sixth in the American. Despite getting off to a slow start the team really picked up in the middle of the season and went on a 9-1 run that included a six-game home winning streak.

Despite this, the Huskies were not able to recover from their struggles on the road early in the season. The team will be losing two key players, but this year’s core will remain unchanged, giving the team a very good chance to challenge SMU next year.

UConn players celebrate after a touchdown from running back Arkeel Newsome (second from left) during the Huskies' game against East Carolina at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

Football

Grade: A  •  Dan Madigan, Associate Sports Editor

After two wins last season, head coach Bob Diaco defied essentially all of the team’s expectations and managed to guide the Huskies to bowl eligibility and a six-win regular season campaign thanks to stout defense and breakout campaigns on offense from Arkeel Newsome and Noel Thomas.

UConn will vie for its seventh win of the season Dec. 26 in St. Petersburg, Florida against Marshall in the St. Petersburg Bowl. Not too shabby for Diaco’s second season as head coach.

Men’s Basketball

Grade: C+  •  Matt Zampini, Sports Editor

Put simply: the men’s basketball team has underachieved this year. The Huskies are 5-3, but all of those wins are from lesser competition. They lost to Syracuse, No. 10 Gonzaga and most recently No. 6 Maryland. All of those are good teams, but the way UConn lost those games has been troubling.

They’ve found themselves down by 20 points against Gonzaga and Maryland and by 17 to Syracuse. There were high expectations this season with the additions of graduate students Sterling Gibbs and Shonn Miller, but the Huskies haven’t met them.

UConn only has a few quality conference games left on the schedule, starting with a struggling Ohio State on Saturday.

Women’s Basketball

Grade: A  •  Spencer Mayfield, Staff Writer

The women’s basketball team is off to a perfect 7-0 start this season, and they have looked fantastic. With convincing non-conference wins over Notre Dame, Ohio State and DePaul, they show no signs of slowing down.

Senior forward Breanna Stewart has proven that she means business this year, leading the team in scoring and rebounding and blocks. She is the best player in the country and a matchup nightmare for opponents. The Huskies look ready to make a run at their fourth straight national championship.