Friday afternoon, after a pair of quick goals from the Old Dominion Monarchs, the UConn field hockey team watched its three-goal lead shrink to just one in a 30-second span. With the momentum totally flipped, Svea Boker knew she had to score.
Dribbling down the far side of the George J. Sherman Family Sports Complex, Boker made a quick cut to the inside, passing by the single defender on her and firing a rocket to the back of the net. From there, the Huskies would add another pair of scores, putting the exclamation point on a 6-2 victory over a conference rival.
“Great players have a sense of what’s needed now,” head coach Nancy Stevens said on her senior striker. “And she’s played since she was 4 years old, so she understands in this moment of the game, my team needs this from me, an individual moment of brilliance. And she has the courage to be that person.”
Boker would finish the game with two goals and an assist in the Huskies’ seventh win over a ranked opponent. Boker scored another pair of goals on Sunday against BU and will likely be named the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week for the second consecutive week. Over her last four games, Boker scored seven of her team-leading 10 goals. Stevens said the recent surge of goals is a credit to Boker’s understanding of when her team needs her the most.
“Great players make everyone around them better,” Stevens said. “So often her focus is making her teammates better, but when you’re a striker you also understand that we need you to put the ball in the back of the net. And so, the past two weekends I think that has been a focus for her and we’ve seen the results.”
While the on-the-field performances have been nothing short of spectacular for the Bremen, Germany native, Boker credits her success to having fun in what she does. And having a great supporting cast doesn’t hurt either.
“Honestly, just enjoy what you do and then have a great team that backs you up in every moment,” Boker said on her recent performances. “I wouldn’t be as good as I am if I didn’t have the team that I have. They set me up to be good.”
The modesty of her on-field displays is what sets Boker apart. It’s the difference between being a good player and a great leader. Boker, along with fellow senior Antonia Tiedtke, is a captain of this year’s group and Stevens couldn’t be more pleased.
“We’re fortunate with Tiedtke and [Boker]. They’re excellent leaders. They’re really outstanding students. They make all the right decisions off the field and on the field. With 10 freshmen, I think it’s critically important to have good leadership. So they’re steering the ship and doing a terrific job of it.”
Freshman Sophie Hamilton is one of those 10 newcomers. While Boker was dazzling on the field, Hamilton was not too far behind. Hamilton dished out three assists in the win over Old Dominion before joining Boker as the only two to score against BU. Hamilton says Boker has been a great resource for her and is more than dependable with the ball.
“She’s great. You can just rely on her if you give the ball to her. And in training, she knows all the different presses. She knows where to be and we just get the ball to her.”
For Boker, who has been around a number of great UConn field hockey leaders has kept the formula simple: Do what others have done for her.
“Honestly, just do what people did to me,” Boker said on her leadership style. “I had great leaders so I just try to build off of that and try to be a good leader for my team now.”
A member of the undefeated 2017 squad that won the national championship, Boker knows a thing or two about winning field hockey games. As the “engine of the attack,” according to her head coach, Boker understands what is expected of her, as well as the rest of the team, and knows what it will take to hang another banner. Though there are plenty of obstacles ahead, and a conference championship to win, the veteran thinks her team has what it takes to win important games.
“Definitely. We want to win so we’re going for it,” Boker said.
Next on the agenda is a trip to Philadelphia for a game against Temple before a matchup with the Terrapins in Maryland. Boker and the Huskies defeated Maryland in the 2017 national championship.
Kevin Arnold is the associate sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @karnold98.