After their regular-season Big East win, the Huskies took to Providence for a two-game tournament that ended with Big East trophies for the sixth consecutive season. UConn did not allow a goal during the tournament, and hopes to be the number one seed going into the NCAA championship.
Game one saw the Huskies face the Providence Friars for the second time this season. The first matchup was a 2-0 victory for UConn in which Providence did not get off a single shot.
“It’s going to be a good challenge because Providence the score was 2-0, one of the closest games we’ve played this season here, and now we’re going to their place. We’re going to have to be very good on Friday to win,” head coach Nancy Stevens said. “Their goalkeeping that day was really extraordinary. She had 14 saves, which is a really good day’s work for a goalkeeper. Although we had 13 penalty corners against one, their corner defense was outstanding.”
It was a similar story on Friday as the Huskies earned a 3-0 victory. Megan Guilbert, the Friar’s goaltender, again notched 13 saves. UConn outshot Providence 25-4 on the game with UConn goalie Nina Klein needing to make only one save in the shutout. Additionally, the Huskies led in penalty corners 17-1, but were only able to convert one corner to a goal.
UConn got on the board early as conference leading-scorer Charlotte Veitner received the ball at the stroke mark and knocked it into the low right corner of the net. Jessica Dembrowski would get the assist on the goal. UConn scored again in the 20th minute, an unassisted goal by Svea Boker off a penalty corner rebound. The Huskies went into the half with a 2-0 lead.
In the second half, Amelia Iacobucci got her third goal of the season on a dump pass from Amanda Collins. The shot came from the middle of the circle and got past Guilbert for the final 3-0 score. Five different players got points in the tilt, while Casey Umstead and Margot van Hecking Colenbrader had seven and five shots, respectively.
“We’ve had ten different players score multiple goals for us this year. I think that makes us very difficult to solve,” head coach Nancy Stevens said. “I thought their goalie played well, I thought their corner defense was exceptional. I’d like to see out penalty corner execution improve, but I thought we played great. I was really pleased with the production, the performance and the effort. We’re really playing well right now.”
UConn carried that confidence into game two on Sunday against Liberty, who defeated Old Dominion in the semi-finals. In the last matchup against the Flames, UConn shut them out 3-0, but this would only be the score for the Huskies going into the half on Sunday.
Less than three minutes into the tilt, Dembrowski converted the penalty corner with an assist from Collins. The Huskies have an over 20 percent conversion rate on penalty corners this season.
The scoring continued when Umstead earned a penalty stroke in the fifteenth minute, knocking one into the lower left corner for the second goal of the game. Finally, in the 24th minute, an absolutely beautiful goal off the stick of Collins made it 3-0. Boker came into the circle trying to set up Veitner, but Veitner missed the pass and the ball ended up with Collins who knocked it between the legs of the goaltender for the 3-0 lead.
The second half was scoreless for both sides as the UConn Huskies would earn their sixth Big East tournament championship.
“We’re just so happy, thrilled for our seniors,” Stevens said. “They started their journey to the national championship in 2014 from here in Providence. This is what’s supposed to happen.”
This 2017 senior class has officially gone undefeated in Big East conference play.
The Huskies are hoping to be the number one seed in the NCAA tournament, therefore able to host games.
“We love our field. It is so fast, lightning fast,” Stevens said. “We play much better on it.”
“I want to give liberty a ton of credit. They played great defense in the second half and shut us out, so it’s a really good thing we had those three first half goal. Nikki Parsley is a first year head coach and she got her team to the finals, Nikki and her staff should be very proud of her team’s season.”
The Huskies will find our Sunday night if they will host NCAA games, but based on their undefeated, NO. 1 season, I think it’s safe to say you’ll be seeing this team back in Storrs very soon.
Rachel Schaefer is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.