A pair of west coast teams will travel to Storrs this weekend, hoping to upset the No. 1-ranked UConn Huskies.
No. 9 Stanford will hope to give UConn its first loss of the season at 6 p.m. this Friday before unranked California closes the weekend slate at noon this Sunday.
UConn enters the weekend at or near the top in every statistical category. The Huskies rank first in assists (3.00), goals per game (5.86), scoring margin (5.43) and goals against average (.043).
Amanda Collins was awarded Big East Offensive Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week after her five-point game against Lafayette last Sunday.
“Amanda brings terrific elimination skills as a striker,” head coach Nancy Stevens said. “She eliminates her defender and can create a two on one for us. She is also a great finisher in front of the net.”
Stanford will be UConn’s third ranked opponent this season and the two are very familiar with each other.
The Cardinals and Huskies played each other twice last year. Their first meeting on Sept 26th ended in a 3-1 victory for Stanford. UConn only lost one game the rest of the season and even exacted a little revenge when they bounced Stanford from the NCAA Tournament on their way to a second consecutive championship.
“Stanford stretches the field, creating a lot of space for their offense,” coach Stevens said of their rival. “We have been working on the cutting the field to limit their opportunities. Both offensive and defensive corner set pieces will be important on Friday night.
Much of the Cardinal’s offense comes from senior Maddie Secco. Secco leads the Cardinals in goals but does her best work when distributing the ball and setting up her teammates.
“Secco is a key player for Stanford,” said Stevens. “She has gotten most of her assists as a stopper on penalty corners, so our goal is to limit Stanford’s corner opportunities. Our outstanding midfield will keep their midfielders occupied as well. We match up very well with Stanford.”
There is less history with UConn’s second opponent this weekend. Sunday will only be the fourth time the California Golden Bears and UConn meet on the field, with their last meeting being in 2013.
California will come to Storrs playing the role of David but has made a habit of toppling Goliaths recently.
California is coming off a 2-1 win over Stanford, their first win over a top-10 opponent since 2007 and before that the Golden Bears toppled No.14 Penn State in overtime.
The Golden Bears have had a few comebacks this season and seem to play their best when their backs are against the wall.
Though California has momentum, coach Stevens and the rest of team know that they ultimately dictate the game.
“They are coming in playing at a high level. We have game film on all their matches to date and we have a solid game plan for Sunday,” said Coach Stevens. “Our focus continues to be about what makes our team special.”
UConn vs. Stanford gets underway tonight at 6 p.m. at the George J. Sherman Family Sports Complex before hosting California at noon this Sunday.
Bryan Lambert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.