Prior to the start of the season, the 2015 UConn field hockey team was pegged to potentially add another banner to an already crowded brick wall behind the Sherman Family Sports Complex.
Now, two games and two wins into season, the Huskies have looked every bit the contender they appeared to be on paper.
UConn swept the competition last weekend, beating Northwestern and Northeastern by scores of 4-1 and 6-0, respectively.
“Our team is unselfish,” head coach Nancy Stevens said of the squad's early success. “They value the assist."
UConn will have its home opener this Friday when the Quinnipiac Bobcats come to Storrs in a non-conference showdown.
Quinnipiac proved to be one of the statistically better teams in the nation last season. Stevens had high praise for their goalie, Megan Conaboy, in particular, calling the senior Quinnipiac’s best defender.
“We’ve played against Megan now for several years and we have a lot of respect for her,” Stevens said. “They’re very strong in goal.”
The Bobcats have had a hard time getting goals on the board this year, scoring only one goal in their first two games. If Quinnipiac wants any chance of pulling the upset, they will need to find a way to stop UConn’s attack while also supporting Conaboy enough defensively.
“I think we will have success against Quinnipiac because we can attack from many different positions,” Stevens said. “We basically attack with seven or eight players, and I think that’s overwhelming for defenses.”
UConn relies on being aggressive and pushing the ball into good attacking positions, leading opponents to adopt a more conservative style of play. Teams will drop a lot more players back on defense then they normally would and try to defeat UConn by beating them back to own their side.
UConn’s recent history has shown they are just as comfortable in a shootout as they would be in a low-scoring affair.
“(Attacking with seven or eight) is risky because you leave yourself vulnerable to counter attack,” Stevens said. “But we want to push the pace and we want to outscore the opponent. Last year in the regionals, we scored nine goals. In the national semi-final and championship game we scored one goal in each. If that’s what we’ll have to do we’ll do it.”
UConn’s home opener against Quinnipiac will start a stretch of seven home games in eight contests. The lone road trip will be a visit to New York this Sunday where UConn will challenge Columbia.
Quinnipiac and UConn begin play at 6 p.m. Friday at the Sherman Family Sports Complex.
Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.