Field Hockey: Big East battle ahead for No. 1 UConn

UConn freshman forward Svea Boker fights for the ball in the Huskies' win 9-0 over Dartmouth on Sunday Oct. 9, 2016, at the Sherman Sports Complex.

The No. 1 UConn field hockey team will try to maintain their undefeated record with two games this weekend. The Huskies (13-0, 4-0 Big East) host Liberty on Saturday in a matchup of two teams fighting for a Big East title before Yale makes the short trip to Storrs for a game on Sunday afternoon.

It is an unusual schedule for the Huskies, who usually play their games on Friday and Sunday but are playing on consecutive days this weekend.

“We scheduled back-to-back because the format for the NCAA tournament is the first and second rounds are Saturday and Sunday,” UConn head coach Nancy Stevens said. “We scheduled this weekend to prepare for the NCAA format, if we get into the NCAA tournament.”

Liberty comes into Saturday’s game in a tie for second place in the Big East, just one game behind UConn. The Lady Flames (5-6, 3-1 Big East) are in the midst of their first season as a member of the conference and seem to be adjusting quite nicely to Big East play. Excluding a 2-1 overtime loss to Old Dominion, Liberty has cruised through their conference games, winning by no less than four goals. This weekend’s game will be the first ever meeting between UConn and Liberty, and Coach Stevens isn’t letting them go under the radar.

“We have great respect for Liberty, they’re one of the strongest teams in our conference,” Stevens said.

Despite their losing record, the Lady Flames have had a strong season. Five of their six losses have been to teams ranked in the top 20 of the NFHCA Coaches Poll, including an overtime loss to defending national champions Syracuse. Liberty has won four of their last five games, beating No. 20 American University on the road in the process.

“If they can take Syracuse to overtime, they certainly have earned our attention,” Stevens said. “We’ll have an especially good week of practice to prepare for them and Yale.”

Liberty is led by a balanced offensive attack. Five players have scored between 12 and 15 points this season, including twin sisters Bethany and Serena Barr. Conveniently, both of the Barr twins have four goals and seven assists on the season.

Sunday’s game against Yale will be preceded by a Senior Day celebration for the Husky seniors. Olivia Bolles, Asia Crawford, Montana Fleming, Efthimia Kutrubis, Anna Middendorf and Darby Smith will be honored for their efforts during their time at UConn.

Yale (4-7, 0-3 Ivy) comes into the weekend on a five game losing streak. The Bulldogs have been outscored 11-2 during that stretch. Junior forward Carol Middough leads Yale in both points and goals this season, recording 11 and five, respectively. The Huskies have never lost to the Bulldogs, going 33-0 in the all-time series that dates back to 1975.

Both games this weekend will be played at George J. Sherman Family Sports Complex in Storrs. Saturday’s game will begin at noon, and Senior Day on Sunday is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

Josh Buser is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at