With 18:36 left to go in the first half, it looked like the Huskies were going to be in a highly competitive game, as the score was tied at three goals apiece with some great ball movement from both teams.
An early goal from UConn’s Olivia Troy set the tone for the game, one filled with 31 total goals. Three quick strikes from Fairfield and two more from UConn came in the five minutes that followed. This game was close.
And then it wasn’t.
Thirty seconds later, Olivia Miles put one in the back of the net to make it 4-3, Huskies. Three consecutive goals from junior midfielder Sydney Watson (one off of a free-position shot) really put the game away early on this cold but clear afternoon. Watson ended up with six goals total on the day, and the Huskies won 19-12.
One notable play for the Huskies Wednesday came with 16:17 left in regulation. The defense held off the Stags’ offensive front for 90 seconds, forcing a shot clock violation. Wasting no time, the Huskies picked up the ball from out of bounds and moved downfield. They had some superb ball movement in the five seconds of possession, capped by Casey O’Grady’s assist to Miles to make it 14-8 UConn.
The Huskies were really able to stuff the stat sheet, as nine different players scored for the team on Wednesday. Aside from Watson’s six, Miles had four, while Lia Laprise and O’Grady scored two goals each. Assist leaders included Stephanie Palmucci (three), Laprise (two) and O’Grady (two).
On the goalkeeping side, senior co-captain Grace Beshlian got the start for UConn (1-0) and picked up the win and a save, while sophomore Landyn White also got minutes later on, earning four saves.
The team had an extremely accurate day on offense, landing 32 of their 35 shots on goal for a percentage of 91.4. They were also able to keep turnovers to a minimum, giving up possession just 13 times compared to Fairfield’s 19. The defense also had some very strong moments, including stopping three free position opportunities within a two-minute span.
Coach Katie Woods was very pleased with the victory, noting the team’s ability to continue to compete despite a near blowout score.
“We fought, regardless of what was going on in the game, the highs, the ups-and-downs, we still continued to fight, which was awesome,” Woods said. “We just gotta clean [the defense] up a little bit.”
The Huskies have a fairly young team, with four sophomores and four juniors getting the start Wednesday. Coach Woods is very optimistic about the future of the program, adding that the experience this year is vital for their improvement.
“The hope is they gain a little [experience] every game, little lessons, little positives, so that with every game they come out more and more confident,” Woods said.
This matchup with Fairfield has become an annual tradition for the Huskies, who fell to them 7-13 last year. Woods admitted that the game last year was “tough” but was pleased this year, saying, “It’s always nice to get that revenge game back.” Fairfield continues their season with a game at home against Columbia on Wednesday. Meanwhile, UConn travels down to Maryland this weekend for a neutral-site game against James Madison on Sunday at noon.
Jonathan Synott is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.