UConn is a field hockey school. No, really.
It’s not often that you get to say you go to a school with arguably the best program in the country. In the last five years, no school has had more success than the Huskies.
UConn has won the field hockey D1 national championship five times, including in 2013, 2014 and, most recently, 2017. It trails only four schools in titles, and none of had the recent success of the Huskies.
Old Dominion has an all-time best nine titles, but none have come since 2000. Maryland has eight, but I was in middle school the last time the Terps won. UNC, the reigning champs, have seven, but before last year hadn’t won in 10 years.
UConn, with 15 Final Four appearances, has built a bona fide powerhouse. It all starts with head coach Nancy Stevens, a phenomenal leader who happens to be the winningest coach in NCAA field hockey history. In her 40 seasons as a head coach, Stevens has accumulated three national titles and an absurd 681-185-24, more victories than any coach, ever.
I know what you’re thinking: Sure, UConn is good at field hockey, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth watching. To that, I implore you to attend a game and give it a chance.
Field hockey plays similar to soccer or that other kind of hockey, meaning if you enjoy either of those, you’ll certainly enjoy field hockey. If you don’t like soccer, field hockey is faster-paced, higher-scoring and without much as of the Emmy award-winning acting. If you don’t like ice hockey, field hockey is less violent, the ball is easier to follow and it isn’t played in a refrigerator.
Unlike football or either soccer program, field hockey plays right on campus at the Sherman Family Complex. The atmosphere at the games is phenomenal, complete with supportive students, die-hard fans and the ever-present collection of passionate parents. It may not have the chaotic energy of Gampel, but if you’re expecting some quiet, lifeless bleachers, you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised.
The rules are easy enough to pick up and the games fly by with very few stoppages. It’s far more technical than hitting a ball with a stick, and you’ll gain an appreciation for the strategy and athletic ability that goes into it. Field hockey is a superb spectator sport, though I don’t blame you for shying away from it before giving it a chance.
After all, if I’m honest, I didn’t attend my first field hockey game until last year. The year prior, the team recorded the first undefeated season (23-0) in program history, capturing its third title in five years. I still regret not catching a single glimpse of that historic season, though at that point, I couldn’t imagine having much fun at a field hockey game. Now, I’m doing my best to make up for lost time.
In her 30th season at the helm of the Huskies, Stevens has the team poised to add national title No. 6 to the trophy room. The team is off to a 7-1 start this season, and six of those wins have come against ranked opponents. UConn has outscored opponents 23-7 with shutouts in half of its games so far. They’re not just winning games, they’re dominating some of the toughest opponents in the country.
The team returns from a four-game road trip this weekend, taking on No. 22 Old Dominion and its nine titles on Friday at 3 p.m., followed by BU on Sunday at 1 p.m. There’s no better chance to get to a game.
Outside of Geno’s teams, it’s rare that we get to see pure greatness before our eyes. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in the field hockey capital of the world.
Andrew Morrison is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com. He tweets @asmor24.