After sweeping both Stanford and Northwestern, the schedule is not getting any easier for No. 4 ranked UConn. The Huskies will face their third straight opponent ranked inside the top 20 when they visit No. 11 Michigan this Sunday.
Michigan has been dominant at Phyllis Ocker Field. The Wolverines own a 159-51 record since the venue opened in 1995, including a 5-2 record last season. With their own fans behind them and a pair of victories of their own over ranked opponents, Michigan will be playing with confidence.
Michigan made a statement in their season opener when they shocked No. 1 North Carolina. The Wolverines jumped out to an early lead in the second half against the Tar Heels, scoring twice in the opening minute. North Carolina tried to rally, but the Wolverines held on for the 3-2 victory. Michigan then topped No.15 Wake Forest, 5-4, in a seesaw affair.
As well as Michigan has been playing, UConn head coach Nancy Stevens has the outmost confidence in her team, and with good reason.
“Our focus is on what makes us special. Michigan gave up six goals last weekend and we recorded two shutouts, while scoring nine goals,” Stevens said. “Our team is confident in our abilities to score and defend.”
The Huskies have been as dominant defensively early in the season as they’ve ever been, holding Stanford and Northwestern to a combined six shots on goal.
Senior goalkeeper Nina Klein has had a low workload so far this season but Stevens believes that even if she isn’t getting the in-game reps, she will be as ready as ever when called upon.
“Nina is a four-year starter, so we have complete confidence in her abilities,” Stevens said. “Experience at the goalkeeping position is incredibly valuable.”
Casey Umstead received an honorable mention in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association weekly awards. Umstead is the anchor of the Huskies’ defense and also added two goals and an assist during the undefeated weekend.
Along with Umstead, forward Amanda Collins is helping to lead the Huskies’ offense with two goals apiece. UConn’s average scoring margin of 4.50 goals is behind only Rutgers and Duke.
Michigan has a potent offense of their own but Stevens hopes that UConn’s defense will be what separates the two teams.
“Our defensive unit works really well together and I know they are looking forward to the challenge of playing a Michigan offense that has proven they can score. Two high-powered offenses competing makes for an exciting game,” Stevens said.
UConn and Michigan will face-off at 1 p.m. this Sunday in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com He tweets @OfficialBrett.