It was a gray but warm Sunday morning when the UConn field hockey team to return to the turf. They hosted the UMass Minutemen at Sherman Field for a quasi-exhibition to kick off a slate of spring competition.
While their standard season is played in the fall, the Huskies still get time to practice and play in both semesters. The game was unorthodox, played under an international time structure of four quarters rather than two halves. They also competed in two rounds of penalty shootouts after the regulation game.
It was all UConn from start to finish as they dominated the first half, keeping possession in the attacking end and working the UMass defense. By halftime, it was 5-0 UConn, capped off on a Abby Gooderham goal from an Antonia Tiedtke penalty corner.
UConn would pick up two more goals in the second half, and win the penalty shootouts, but it was a more balanced affair as UMass put a couple waves of pressure on the Huskies.
“There’s a lot to like. Scoring the seven goals is great. Getting the shutout is critically important,” Head Coach Nancy Stevens said postgame, “All faces of the game looked really strong.”
Both teams were playing with short benches due to graduating players.
“We have one senior and one junior on the field. When you think of that in light of the performance today, we couldn’t be more pleased,” said Stevens.
The Huskies were without leading returning scorer and rising senior Svea Boker who scored 18 goals and had 16 assists for 52 points in the fall. Boker is currently studying abroad in Melbourne, Australia and will miss the entire spring season. She is playing while abroad.
It wasn’t all perfect, and the spring season is a big period for development, even if the focus doesn’t wane from winning.
“Here at UConn we think that winning is a skill. We are going to play to win everything because that is a learned skill. We need to get our younger plays in to get that experience and the spring allows you to do that,” Stevens said.
“Obviously there are always things we need to work on. Our attack corner execution needs to improve a bit. Our counterattack could be better,” Stevens said. “We ran in a half field press the second two quarters and we needed to break out from that and counterattack more effectively. That will be a point of emphasis going forward.”
The contest against UMass was the lone home outing for UConn this spring. They will proceed on to St. Joseph’s (PA) on Saturday, April 6, to take on St. Joe’s, Rutgers and Syracuse in a jamboree of sorts.
They will then move slightly eastward into New Jersey to take on Princeton on Sunday, April 7, They will finish with another Ivy league foe as the conclude at Harvard on Saturday, April 13.
During the fall UConn defeated Syracuse 3-0 in Syracuse and Rutgers 5-0 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Princeton, however, came to Storrs on Oct. 7 and defeated UConn 5-2.
Matt Barresi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.