In 2017, the UConn field hockey team didn’t lose a single game. A fitting ending for a senior class that was almost perfect in every way.
The senior class of UConn field hockey finished its collegiate careers much the way they started. A celebration on the field and a national championship trophy raised in the air. Between their championship freshman and senior seasons, Charlotte Veitner, Maureen Schott, Karlie Heistand, Casey Umstead and Nina Klein lost only six games and made the Final Four every season.
But more than all the wins or the awards, these Huskies want to be remembered for how they approached their sport.
“Just our attitude, our presence, and that we were good leaders,” Heistand said. “It’s more of the team aspect for us to be able to get the team motivated and just be there together and have a team that plays so well together and cares so much for each other.”
The seniors’ work ethic and commitment to the program also shined during their time at UConn.
“There are just no words to express what a joy it’s been to work with this particular class,” head coach Nancy Stevens said. “ They couldn’t have done much more for the University of Connecticut.”
Every senior had a role on the team. Each one a cog that kept the unstoppable machine that is UConn field hockey rolling.
Even after leading the nation in scoring and becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer, Veitner knows her success would be possible without the teammates beside her.
“If I hadn’t been on a team that was outscoring their opponents by a margin of four goals I wouldn’t have been able to score that much,” Veitner said. “I don’t really have a whole lot of defensive responsibility. I kind of leave that to the rest.”
Klein was the backstop of UConn’s defense, starting all 23 games in goal and recorded a career-high 12 shutouts. Klein redshirted in 2013, sitting behind Sarah Mansfield before taking over the starting role and winning a national championship in 2014.
“I wanted to perform well, but when we won the National Championship it was kind of a shock,” said Klein. “For a freshman goalkeeper to come in behind a four-time All-American, it’s crazy.”
Schott can relate to Klein. The forward redshirted her freshman year before developing into a key role player for the Huskies. She believes the experience was a valuable learning moment.
“When you got to UConn you had to earn you spot on the field. I think what I’ve learned freshman to senior year is that nothing is given, it’s earned,” Schott said. “I think that’s an important lesson because two championships are earned, not given.”
Despite all coming from different backgrounds, after spending the four years together, Umstead said the group is close enough they could talk on the field without words being exchanged.
“We know how each other are going to play or where they’re looking for you to be on the field when you have the ball,” Umstead said.
Even though the seniors are going their separate ways, it’s clear that the long bus rides and hours spent on the field have created an inseparable bond between the group.
“These are girls that are going to potentially be at my wedding,” Klein said.
“We are a family,” Heistand said. “I will keep in touch with them all the time.”
Next season, the Huskies will try to stomach the loss of their seniors by leaning on budding stars like Barabra Van Der Hoogen, Svea Boker and Margot Van Hecking Colenbrander. While they all showed flashes of greatness at various points, filling the shoes of one of the most decorated classes in program history is a mighty tall order and it is no guarantee UConn is back in the final four for a sixth straight season. However, they do have one massive advantage. They were able to learn from some of the best the sports has to offer.
“I think young players and high schoolers need role models to look up to and I think this senior class…,” Stevens said with a slight pause.
“Well, who could be better?”
Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.