The No. 1 ranked UConn Huskies field hockey team has made history this season. They finished both the regular season and Big East Tournament with an undefeated record and two of their graduating seniors, Charlotte Veitner and Nina Klein, set program records for goals and wins respectively.
However, the ultimate goal has always been bringing home another national title to Storrs.
That mission starts for real this Saturday when UConn hosts the opening round of the NCAA Tournament against Boston University. The winner of the game will advance to the second-round game on Sunday, also in Storrs.
UConn is looking to reach the Final Four for the 15th time in program history and capture their fifth national title, their first since 2014.
UConn spent most of the week unsure of who exactly their first-round opponent would be. Before they could officially write in BU, they had to wait for the Terriers to beat Fairfield University on Wednesday in a play-in game.
Head coach Nancy Stevens says that preparation throughout the week during the postseason requires a different approach than during the regular season.
“There is a lot of game film to review and present to the team, but our team does a great job of keeping focus,” said Stevens. “We have dedicated each day of practice this week to a different opponent and we feel that this approach works best in preparing for NCAA play.”
Saturday’s game will be the second time this season UConn and BU have played at the George J Sherman Family Sports Complex. On Sept. 18, UConn routed BU in an 8-1 contest. Veitner led the way with four goals and Svea Boker also added a pair.
Stevens doesn’t expect BU to be the same team in November that they were in September.
“No doubt BU has come up with additional set pieces, new outletting schemes and more complex pressing schemes,” said Stevens. “Good teams keep evolving throughout the season. BU has a young team that has improved with experience.”
BU is a well-balanced scoring team. Twelve different Terriers have found the back of the net this season. Freshman Alisa Connolly leads the team in goals with 10 and senior Grace Boston is right on her heels with nine goals.
BU also runs an unorthodox scheme in net. Goalkeepers Millie Baker and Kathleen Keegan have split time in goal this season with Baker playing the first half and Keegan relieving her for the second half.
The Huskies typically use a short rotation of players during the regular season, rarely ever dipping deep into the bench. Stevens says to expect more of the same in the postseason.
“We have been able to play fifteen players on a regular basic and those players will have the opportunity to contribute to our post-season success,” said Stevens.
UConn and BU will open up the First Round of the NCAA Tournament at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. The winner will advance to play the winner of the Penn State/ Delaware game at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Bryan Lambert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.