After suffering a tough loss to a good Hofstra team on Saturday, the Huskies hope to bounce back this weekend against both UMass Lowell and New Hampshire.
Before their season was cut short due to COVID-19 last year, UConn was able to beat both of these teams rather convincingly. The UMass Lowell game in particular, held on “Bleed Blue Day,” saw then-junior Sydney Watson break a record for most draw controls in a game in program history (14). If that weren’t enough, she also tied Grace Nolan’s record for most goals in a game, with eight. Her nine total points helped lead the Huskies to a 20-14 rout of the River Hawks.
Last season’s New Hampshire game was a blowout as well, with the Huskies ending up on top 21-8 over the Wildcats. Hat tricks from four players, as well as points from 11, helped propel this team to a solid away win.
Friday’s game will be UMass Lowell’s first of the season, and they will look to come out of the gate hot this year. UConn should take note of junior Samantha Blair, the River Hawks’ leading point scorer in 2020. She scored twice and assisted once in last year’s contest, and will try to add more when the Huskies come to town.
UMass Lowell finished the year 2-5, but appears to be a growing program getting better by the season. In coach Lisa Miller’s first year with the team, they earned their first season opening win in the school’s history. While this may look like an easy win for the Huskies on paper, the UMass Lowell squad has a lot to prove, and will likely bring a good fight on Friday.
New Hampshire has yet to play a game either, with two contests against UMass and USC getting cancelled. Before their match with UConn, the Wildcats have a game on Friday against Merrimack. When it came to goal-scoring, UNH had a three-headed monster, taking the form of Julia Neyland, Elizabeth Blanding and Emily Curtis, who each had nine or more goals this past year. The Huskies should watch out for these three in their matchup on Sunday.
New Hampshire was just 1-4 before the season abruptly ended, but that record doesn’t reflect their efforts this past year. This team finished 10-7 in 2019, and was predicted to finish third in the America East conference in 2021.
In their last game against Hofstra, UConn only managed to earn 10 draw controls to Hofstra’s 20. If the Huskies hope to compete against these two squads, they need to gain and keep possession via these draw controls.