The No. 5 UConn field hockey team (5-0) will face their biggest tests of the season as they travel to face No. 13 Old Dominion University on Friday afternoon and No. 14 University of Virginia on Sunday.
The Huskies remain undefeated after another successful weekend starting with a come from behind 2-1 victory over UMass last Friday, and a 4-0 shutout over Harvard University on Sunday.
Friday will be the first time UConn has played a ranked opponent since a season opening win at then-No. 11 Stanford University. The Huskies have a long-standing history with Old Dominion and head coach Nancy Stevens is excited to write the next chapter.
“It’s such a big weekend for us, playing on the road too,” Stevens said. “We had two one-goal games with Old Dominion last year. We beat them here at home in a 1-0 game. Then the Big East championship was at their place and we played them in the semi-final; it was a wild game, we ended up winning by a goal. It’s going to be such an exciting conference matchup. Obviously it’s extremely important to start conference play strong.”
The No. 13 Lady Monarchs have won four straight following a 6-2 season opening loss to No. 4 Penn State. They are lead by junior Danielle Grega and freshmen Erin Huffman who have both scored three goals on the season. Sophomore goalie Kearsie Robles was just named Big East Defensive Player of the Week.
Old Dominion has not beaten the Huskies since 2013.
Sunday’s game features a matchup with ACC opponent Virginia. The No. 14 Cavaliers are 3-3 with losses to No. 12 Delaware, No. 4 Penn State and No. 2 Duke.
“Virginia went to the Elite Eight last year,” Stevens said. “They have the national player of the year in Tara Vittese. It’s going to be a huge challenge for us.”
Senior Riley Tata leads the Cavaliers with four goals and Vittese, the two-time first-team All-American/All-ACC and reigning NFHCA Player of the Year, has three goals.
It’ll be a busy weekend for the Cavaliers as well; they host No. 10 Princeton on Friday before a bigger test with No. 5 UConn on Sunday.
Stevens, in her 27th year at the helm of UConn field hockey, knows these types of weekends are the best measuring sticks for how good a team really is.
“If you can’t compete on the road, you won’t achieve your goals as a team,” Stevens said. “We simply have to be a good road team.”