It didn’t come easy, but after a nail biting victory over No. 6 Penn State, UConn field hockey clinched a trip to the Final Four in Louisville, Kentucky.
Upon Further Review
Holding a 4-2 lead during the second half of Sunday’s match against Penn State, it looked like the Huskies were well on their to way to their 15th Final Four appearance.
A pair of unfortunate missteps put that in jeopardy.
First, with the Huskies back in their own zone, the ball took a strange bounce off of Antonio Tiedtke’s stick into her own goal to cut the deficit to one. Penn State’s Abby Myers got credit for the goal, as she was the last person to touch it.
Moments later, Penn State had the tying goal after sending a pass from near midfield into the offensive zone. The ball sailed over through the air and somehow found a Penn State stick to land on. The redirect sent the ball through UConn’s defense it into the back of the net.
In the span of less than five minutes, UConn went from having all the momentum to absolutely none of it.
That is, before the referees decided to take a second look at the play under the hood.
After a lengthy review it was determined that the ball came in too high and the goal was waved off.
As the referees conferred and the two teams huddled, senior forward Charlotte Veitner said there was no sense of nervousness amongst the team.
“We knew we were going to come out strong no matter what,” Veitner said. “We weren’t really thinking about the outcome of that call. It’s going to be just us on the field as soon as the call is determined.”
UConn held steady the rest of the way to grind out the 4-3 win.
Sunday’s game didn’t include a lot of bad blood but it did have some shared blood.
When UConn freshman Jessica Dembrowski lined up for the games’ opening draw, there was a familiar face on the other side of the field.
Katie Dembrowski is a junior midfielder for the Nittany Lions and Jessica’s older sister by about three years. The two grew up playing together. Sunday’s match was the first time they ever faced off as rivals.
“It was really exciting,” Jessica said. “We never really had to do that before because in high school and club we’ve always been on the same team. It was exciting and it was interesting to see who would come out on top.”
Jessica said that the two approached the game just like they would any other.
“We talked before the game. We wished each other luck like we would do before any other game,” Jessica said. “ We said ‘Hi’ on the field and that was really it.”
‘Tis The Season For Revenge
UConn’s next opponent is a familiar one.
Next Friday’s game in Louisville will be the third time in the past five years that North Carolina and UConn have met in the Final Four.
“We have a history. We have great respect for their program,” said head coach Nancy Stevens.
“You have 10 national championships between the two programs, two storied programs in women’s field hockey. That’s always a great matchup.”
Last year, the Huskies suffered a heart breaking overtime loss to the Tar Heels. Malin Evert scored the game-winning goal after an odd man rush left UConn goalkeeper Nina Klein exposed in net and ended the Huskies season.
No one said the word “revenge” after the game, but Veitner gave the sense that the team was looking for some payback.
“I just want to get them back.”
Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.