If you were to ask anyone in Connecticut about UConn women’s sports, almost everyone will talk about the dynasty of the women’s basketball team. This isn’t a knock on them, they are obviously extremely good and deserve the notoriety, but that leaves what the UConn field hockey team has accomplished out of the picture. What this team has done is special and even I have not been able to appreciate it completely.
Just a year ago, UConn women’s field hockey had the first perfect season in school history en route to their third national title in five years. That’s pretty spectacular, some would even call it a dynasty. That winning streak of 23 games continued into this season, reaching 33 games at its peak and including a home-field winning streak of 42 games. But now, it’s all over.
Sunday afternoon, the Huskies were defeated for the first time in two years. Yes, they are still defending champions but the streak is gone. So, now what?
Head coach Nancy Stevens, the all-time most successful coach in the sport at the division I level, is not hanging her head after the loss. She didn’t even know what the streak was at because she doesn’t “count those things.” She’s just ready for the team’s next opportunity to win.
“I think they have to be encouraged for fighting until the end,” Stevens said postgame. “The easier path is to just not give the effort because you’re behind by four. That’s a pretty steep hill to climb. However, we didn’t. Our players aren’t wired that way. So I think the focus is on such a positive response to adversity and fighting through it. So we’re really proud of their effort and can’t wait for the next game for an opportunity to win.”
That’s another thing: this team is laser-focused on doing what it takes to win. Although the team lost six starters from a year ago, there is still a core group of players who built the streak from the beginning, an encouraging thing after a tough loss.
“The great thing is that a number of the players on our team are responsible for that winning streak,” Stevens said. “They’re the reason why we won 33 in a row so they should be really proud of that and not focus on the fact that Maryland was able to win today.”
So now this team has a clean slate. They are expected to still be a top team the rest of the way, as they should (likely fall to no. 3 in the rankings), whether they start a new streak or not.
We don’t know how the rest of the season will go; whether they start a new streak, if they will repeat as champs or if they never win another game (highly unlikely). What we do know now is that they’re focused on the next game on the schedule, a road matchup with fellow BIG EAST competitor Providence College.
“So our focus will be on Providence for Friday,” Stevens said.
Kevin Arnold is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.