The UConn field hockey team has opened its season with four consecutive games against top-25 opponents, winning all four contests. Things don’t get any easier this weekend as the Huskies travel to take on No. 11 Michigan and No. 25 Michigan State.
UConn (4-0) is now ranked No. 3 in the country after surpassing Maryland in votes on Tuesday. The Huskies have not only defeated every opponent they’ve faced, they’ve done it in a dominant defensive fashion, outscoring teams 12-3 on the season.
On Wednesday, star goalkeeper Cheyenne Sprecher was named the NFHCA Defensive Player of the Week, the top national award each week. Sprecher had a phenomenal weekend, putting together two shutouts on 11 saves against a pair of high-powered offenses. It’s the second straight week that a UConn player has won the award, as senior back Antonia Tiedtke earned the honors last week.
No. 11 Michigan (2-2) has played three of its four matches against ranked opponents, taking losses to No. 1 UNC and No. 18 Stanford while defeating No. 15 Wake Forest. Last time out, the Wolverines took down Cal, 2-1, in Berkeley.
Senior Meg Dowthwaite is Michigan’s primary offensive weapon with a team-high three goals on 14 shots. Sophomore Kathryn Peterson and senior Guadalupe Fernandez-Lacort each have three assists. In goal, sophomore Anna Spieker has struggled thus far, allowing eight goals against seven saves and a .467 save percentage.
Michigan State (3-1) won its first three contests, all against unranked opponents, before dropping its most recent game to No. 12 Louisville, 1-4, on Sunday. The Spartans defeated Michigan in their sole exhibition game.
It’s a balanced attack for Michigan State, as six different players have found the back of the net. Junior Lia Sinisi and freshman Nienke Bloemsaat share the team lead in goals with three. Junior midfielder Cara Bonshak has assisted on four goals. Sophomore goalie Jade Arundell has been superb in goal, racking up 25 saves and a .833 save percentage.
UConn faced off against then No. 5 Michigan and Michigan State in a back-to-back last season as well, coming away with a 5-0 victory over the Spartans followed by a 2-1 comeback win over Michigan. Both of those contests were played on home soil, and now the Huskies head to Ann Arbor and East Lansing looking to repeat the sweep.
Freshman Marie Auer has been the surprise star for the Huskies this season, having scored at least once in three of UConn’s four games so far. Though the stats don’t necessarily reflect it, senior Svea Boker has been her usual dominant self and sophomore Abby Gooderham has been strong in the midfield. And of course, Sprecher has been an absolute brick wall in goal, showing no signs of a sophomore slump after her Big East Freshman of the Year season a year ago.
Friday’s game at Michigan begins at 6 p.m. EST in Ann Arbor, followed by an 11 a.m. start in East Lansing on Sunday. Both games will be streamed on the BTN+ Network.
Andrew Morrison is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.