Well, it took over a month, but the UConn women’s lacrosse team is finally in the win column after a 10-9 victory over Albany on Wednesday. It certainly wasn’t how they drew it up, as they had a 9-3 lead in the second half that shrunk to just a one-goal lead by the game’s end.
A win is a win though and there are certainly a bunch of positives that we can take from this gutsy performance. Here are the top three.
1. The Huskies can score in bunches
This team has showed all season that they know how to score. The problem is sometimes the offense goes dormant. This actually happened today a little bit in the final 10 minutes, but before this there were a couple instances where they really showed off their ability to score.
The best example was the start of the second half. UConn put together a great offensive possession that set up Olivia Miles inside for the goal. Then the Huskies won the draw control and Miles went down the field nearly untouched to put home another goal nine seconds later.
A minute later, Caitlin Leary got a free-position shot and she converted it for the third UConn goal in a minute and 14 seconds.
In the first half, they also scored twice in the first five minutes and scored three unanswered goals in a 10-minute period to take a 5-2 lead. It seems to be very rare that this team scores just once.
2. Sydney Watson is really good
If you have been following the team in any capacity this year, one name should absolutely stand out: Sydney Watson. Through six games, she leads the team in almost every category including goals (16), assists (5), shots on goal (24), ground balls (11) and draw controls (26). Translation: She’s the best player on the team.
Watson had another terrific game on Wednesday, where she recorded her fourth consecutive hat trick with a four-point game.
“She’s just one of those players,” head coach Katie Woods said after the game. “She’s just going to do whatever she has to for the team, and she’s such a strong athlete that she has the ability if she wants to take over a game, which is pretty cool.”
Watson scored what ended up being the game-winning goal on a free-position shot with 12 minutes left in the game. This was a huge goal because it ended a 4-0 Albany run and it gave the Huskies a more comfortable three-goal lead, which they would need to win the game.
“I’m trying to keep my head up on my free positions,” Watson said about the key goal. “They’re kind of up and down every once in a while, but either way I know my team has my back, make it or not. I’m happy I was able to put it away for them.”
3. The defense can step up when it needs to
This was by far the best showing that the UConn defense has had so far this season. They held Albany to just nine goals on 22 shots on goal, both were season lows.
However, the most impressive defense came in the last six minutes. Albany scored to make it a 10-9 game with over six-and-a-half minutes left, but then the Huskies’ defense went into lockdown mode.
A couple of Grace Beshlian’s 13 saves came in this highly crucial time. Also, the defense caused some key turnovers, none bigger than the one caused by Miles in the final minute to preserve the UConn win.
Woods talked about what she saw from the defense on the final few possessions to halt the 6-1 Albany run and hold on for the win.
“I think for a moment they got a little bit tight and a little nervous, but we kind of tried to calm them down and ground them a little bit and build back to the basics and what really worked in the first half,” she said. “It was really all about our shifting, our sliding, our communication kind of all being on the same page and they were able to stand their ground towards the end.”
By the skin of their teeth, the Huskies escaped for their first win of the season, showing off the grittiness and toughness of this team that could propel them to many more wins in the future.
Danny Barletta is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.