The 2019-2020 academic year was nothing short of wild and UConn Athletics was along for the whole ride. Before being forced to stay home and away from campus, we saw some spectacular performances on the fields, and courts, of play. From the top-ranked field hockey and women’s basketball teams to the re-emergence of the men’s basketball team and hot starts from both the baseball and softball squads. With All-American and All-Conference selections across the board, the DC Sports section closes out the year with picks of its favorite Husky moments.
Danny Barletta, Staff Writer
For me, the best moment(s) of the year was watching the men’s hockey team steal victories in the final minute in back-to-back weeks. This team was one of the most fun and exciting teams that I’ve had the opportunity to cover, and the pinnacle of their season was these two games. First against BU on Feb. 21, after blowing an early 2-0 lead, the Huskies found themselves down 3-2 in the last minute. Then Ben Freeman tied the game, and on the first shift of overtime, he made a great play to find Sasha Payusov for the game-winning goal. The XL Center went nuts, and it was an awesome environment. But that wasn’t all. Exactly one week later back at XL, the Huskies pulled out their late-game magic again against UMass, only this time they didn’t need overtime. Marc Gatcomb and Kale Howarth each scored goals in the final 1:30 of the game to give UConn another miracle win on senior night in front of the home crowd. Being there to cover both of these games was incredible.
Conner Gilson, Staff Writer
That game against UMass will hold a special place in my heart for a long time, but my all-time favorite memory from this year has to be senior night for the men’s basketball team. Led by Christian Vital, Hurley’s men upset No. 21 Houston in a back-and-forth game that kept Gampel on their feet for all 40 minutes. The stakes were huge with seeding in the upcoming AAC tournament on the line, and CV and Co. lived up to the challenge earning their fourth straight and by far biggest win of the year. In my time at UConn I have never heard Gampel louder or more excited, and despite the tournament eventually being cancelled, it still has fans eager for the future. UConn v. Houston was a culmination of all the work the team had put in throughout the year and was a movie-type ending to their regular season. It served as a going-away celebration for CV, but more importantly as a comeback story for UConn as a dominant basketball program, and it is a game I will never forget.
Special team. Special season.
— UConn Men's Basketball (@UConnMBB) March 6, 2020
Sean Janos, Staff Writer
UConn and Tennessee reignited their women’s basketball rivalry this past January, with the Huskies prevailing 60-45. It was the first time the Huskies and Vols played each other since the 2006-07 regular season. Their rivalry grew so contentious, that Geno Auriemma and Pat Summit stopped scheduling games against one another. In the schools’ first meeting in over a decade, freshman Aubrey Griffin burst onto the scene for UConn. With starting center Olivia Nelson-Ododa in foul trouble early in the game, Geno had to go small with the 6-foot-1-inch Griffin at the five. She scored 13 points, grabbed seven rebounds (five offensive) and came away with five steals. Her defense changed the game for the Huskies, who had to win the game on that end with the offense struggling. Experiencing the rebirth of the greatest rivalry in women’s basketball along with the impact game from the freshman Griffin made this an unforgettable game to cover.
Kevin Arnold, Associate Sports Editor
Watching the men’s basketball program rise once again to competitive prominence from the media seating was a thrill and an experience I won’t soon forget, but what about the field hockey team? I was able to cover Nancy Stevens’ squad for the last two seasons, a program that schools across the nation strive to emulate. This season I was able to watch them win their 8th-consecutive Big East title, and 19th in school history, down at Quinnipiac University in Hamden. Svea Boker, team captain and All-American striker, scored twice in the third quarter while Cheyenne Sprecher secured a shutout in net against Old Dominion. It was a thrilling and emotional setting for the nation’s premier program and one of my favorite sporting experiences in my four years at UConn.
— UConn Field Hockey (@UConnFHockey) December 13, 2019
Jonathan Synott, Campus Correspondent
Being a freshman, my favorite moment had to be my first men’s basketball game as a student, against a ranked Florida team. Despite a few down years since their last championship and a horrible home loss against St. Joseph’s the game before, the team pulled it together with strong showings from many players, especially Tyler Polley and Akok Akok. Florida, being the tough opponent that they are, led many late resurgences with clutch threes, but the Huskies were not phased as they held it together and truly earned their three point victory. The feeling in Gampel was electric that night, the only time I’ve seen it louder was the Houston game later that season. While better games were played throughout the season, this one really left a lasting impression that UConn basketball was back, and that Dan Hurley’s impact was changing the culture of the team. The rowdiness of the student section provided a sense of togetherness, and the outcome made me excited to watch this team compete in the Big East for years to come.
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