For the sixth time this season, the No. 4 UConn field hockey team took down a ranked opponent over the weekend, defeating No. 6 Princeton in overtime two days after a dominant 5-0 victory over Big East rival Quinnipiac.
As the majority of UConn’s other athletics programs prepare to join the Big East, field hockey, which remained an associate member of the Big East even after the split in 2013, looks to win its eighth-straight Big East title.
That goal certainly looked within reach on Friday, as the Huskies (7-1, 1-0 Big East) put a beating on Quinnipiac (2-5, 0-1) in the conference opener, setting a new season high in goals scored with a 5-0 victory in Hamden.
Freshman Sophie Hamilton scored twice, her first multi-goal game in a Husky uniform, and senior Svea Boker added two goals of her own. Sophomore Maddy Wray also scored, her fourth of the season. The five-goal differential could’ve been even larger, as UConn outshot the Bobcats 25-4 and 16-3 on goal.
Boker’s weekend was far from over, as the star senior came up big when UConn needed her most on Sunday at No. 6 Princeton (3-3).
Coming off a 1-2 loss to No. 21 Rutgers, the Tigers were eager to get back in the win column, especially against a quality opponent. But it was UConn who struck first, as junior Kourtney Kennedy ripped a shot off a corner that deflected off a Princeton player into the net right before the half to give UConn a 1-0 lead at the break.
That score appeared like it was going to hold for the remainder of the game, but the Tigers kept the pressure applied, finally breaking through with less than just three minutes remaining to send it to overtime. It was the first goal allowed by UConn goaltender Cheyenne Sprecher, who has already recorded four shutouts this season, in three games.
In overtime, it was the veteran presence of Boker that was the difference maker. In the 64th minute, Boker dribbled up the left side and whipped a shot past the keeper for the game-winner, her team-leading sixth goal of the season.
Last time the Huskies played at home, head coach Nancy Stevens talked about Boker’s importance to the team, even when it’s not reflected on the scoreboard.
“We’re led by Svea Boker on the offensive end, she’s one of the best strikers in the country,” Stevens said. “She is breathtaking, and she’s not going to get the credit unless she scores goals. She’s everything, she’s the engine of the attack.”
Given her three-goal weekend and a game winner to boot, it’s safe to say Boker will get some well-deserved credit this week.
With two more road win tallies, the Huskies are now 5-1 away from home this season. After a loss to No. 9 Michigan last weekend knocked UConn from No. 3 to 4 in the national rankings, this weekend sweep will certainly get UConn back in the top-three conversation. UNC and Duke should both stay atop the rankings with wins this weekend, but perhaps the win over Princeton will elevate UConn over Maryland in next week’s poll.
Up next for UConn is a return home to the George J. Sherman Family Sports Complex as Big East foe Old Dominion comes to town on Friday, followed by a meeting with Boston University on Sunday.
Andrew Morrison is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.