The fall semester comes to an end next week, so we asked our staff to look back on the last few months of UConn athletics and answer this: what was the best individual performance by a UConn student-athlete this past semester?
Stephanie Sheehan, Associate Managing Editor
It’s honestly hard to argue that anyone else but Stephanie Ribeiro, the breakout senior forward on the women’s soccer team, had the best performance this semester. Ribeiro finished her season with 21 goals, three shy of tying the program record for most goals in a season (24), in addition to acquiring 102 career points after recording 55 of them this season alone. Ribeiro is a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann trophy, which is soccer’s Player of the Year award, and she was named the Most Outstanding Offensive player in the American tournament, as well as being an NCSAA First-Team All-American selection for the second year in a row. With the season over, she finished tied for first in the nation in goals scored (21) and second in assists (14). Although the Huskies were second round exits in the NCAA tournament, they certainly would not have finished their season 19-3-1. Ribeiro has a legit shot at winning the MAC Hermann trophy, which would be the icing on her senior season cake.
Josh Buser, Staff Writer
Junior forward Charlotte Veitner was second in points per game among NCAA Division I field hockey players, and her whole season could be considered the best individual performance by a UConn student-athlete. However, her game against Virginia was particularly incredible. The then-No. 5 Huskies traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia (which may or may not be named after Veitner herself) to take on the then-No.14 Cavaliers in a huge game for both teams. On the big stage, Veitner set a career-high by scoring six goals in the Huskies’ dominant 8-0 victory. For comparison, the NCAA Division I leader in goals per game averaged just 1.32, so for Veitner to score six against a team that ended the season ranked No. 8 is truly remarkable. The standout performance from Veitner helped the Huskies remain undefeated and gave a huge boost to their already impressive résumé.
Tyler Keating, Associate Sports Editor
The less said about this season of UConn football, the better, but despite the team’s utter collapse down the season, they still received some standout performances from their best players. Not many of those statistically outdid senior safety Obi Melifonwu’s season finale against Tulane on Nov. 26. Melifonwu recorded a program-record 26 tackles, as he was flying around the field making plays in his final game as a Husky. The UConn defense still surrendered 38 points in a home loss, but Melifonwu’s performance displayed the effort, intelligence and athleticism that helped earn him First Team All-American Athletic Conference honors. The 6-foot-3, 217-pound safety appears to be a legitimate NFL prospect entering the 2017 draft, partly because of games like those.
Daniela Marulanda, Campus-Correspondent
Since someone already said Steph Ribeiro, I’m going to say Steph’s partner in crime and the team’s second leading goal scorer, Rachel Hill. Hill had a phenomenal season that helped UConn reach the NCAA tournament. She had 16 goals, five assists and 37 points. She was second in the conference for most shots (83), with an average of 3.65 shots per game. Hill was three goals short of surpassing UConn’s scoring record of 65. She leaves UConn with two American championships and a regular season American championship. Alongside Ribeiro, Hill was named in the NSCAA All-American team for two consecutive seasons and is a MAC Hermann semifinalist. Her athleticism and chemistry with Ribeiro were key for the great season UConn had.
Rachel Schaefer, Campus Correspondent
I had the pleasure of writing for softball during their fall exhibition season. The highlight was when junior Chelsea Eckert and sophomore Jill Stockley combined for a no hitter in the first game of their double-header against Yale University. While the season was in exhibition, the team performed well, and this no-hitter is an indication of great things to come from them.
Chris Hanna, Staff Writer
After covering the men’s soccer team this season, I have to say no particular player really stood out for me this fall. The Huskies’ early end to the season didn't allow anyone to really stand out with a big postseason performance, so I'll just give my vote to a few key players.
Sophomore forward Abdul Mbacke Thiam had a great second year in Storrs, tallying 10 goals and four assists in 17 games, while senior midfielder Kwame Awuah scored two goals of his own to go with seven assists. Thiam was the conference leader in goals scored, while Awuah was among the nation’s leading playmakers.
In the defensive half of the pitch, sophomore centerback Simen Olafsen was huge for the Huskies, forming a solid pairing with Jacob Hauser-Ramsey and earning eight shutouts with only 15 goals allowed throughout the season. That, of course, wouldn't have been possible without the stellar play of Scott Levene at the back for the entire season. Levene made 57 saves on his way to a 0.77 goals against average for the year and was a vital part of the team's seven-game win streak in the middle of the season.
Dan Madigan, Sports Editor
UConn football did not have a lot of bright spots, but one of them certainly was senior wide receiver Noel Thomas. Even in the worst offense in collegiate football, Thomas still managed to be one of the best wide receivers in the country, hauling in 100 passes (a new single-season UConn record), 1179 yards and three touchdowns. He single-handedly kept the offense afloat multiple times this semester, but his best performance likely came against Syracuse on Sept. 24, where he caught 14 passes for 111 yards in the 31-24 loss. His 14 catches were just one short of the program single game record.
Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Rachel Schaefer is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Hanna is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com. He tweets