When you think of the UConn field hockey team, what’s the first word you think of? Dominant? Champions? Good?
These are a few that came to my mind when choosing to take this beat based on the nature of this historic program, winning five national championships and a Big East record of 16 conference championships.
Flash forward to three weeks into the season, and the record looks less than ideal, as the team currently sits at 2-4. Not great. Yet as bad as the win-loss total is at the moment, you can describe the Huskies with two of the three words I previously stated. While not dominant thus far into the season, they are still reigning Big East champions and the frontrunners to repeat. Furthermore, despite their record, they are still good.
Every single game on UConn’s schedule thus far has been against a ranked team, except for one. This weekend, they face two more. For a team still recovering from the loss of 2020 top scorer Sophie Hamilton to the professional leagues, expecting them to thrive amongst the top teams in the country is a tough ask. Their struggles as of late have been due to the lack of a top scoring option, with last game against No. 16 Syracuse being the second time this year the Huskies had scored two or more goals in a contest.
The good news is UConn is trending in the right direction. Key returnee Jessica Dembrowski has come alive as of late, scoring twice and assisting once in the Huskies’ loss on Sunday, earning her a spot on the Big East Weekly Honor Roll. Freshman Sophia Ugo has shined, scoring a goal in three consecutive games before tallying an assist against Syracuse. Dembrowski, Ugo and the rest of the team will have to keep the offense rolling as UConn heads into their first Big East game of the season against conference runner up No. 19 Old Dominion.
The Monarchs have built upon last year’s successes, going 4-1 in their first five games. They last played the Huskies in the Big East Championship this past spring when they got shutout, 2-0. Expect them to have a chip on their shoulders in this contest.
Old Dominion’s Nicole Fredricks has been playing well as of late, earning Big East Defensive Player of the Week Honors. In the team’s last two games, she assisted in a clean sheet against Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as scoring a crucial goal in the last minute against Longwood to win the match. Look for her to make an impact on Friday.
UConn will continue its weekend homestand on Sunday afternoon, as they take on No. 13 Harvard at 1:00 p.m. The Crimson have had a successful start to the year, starting out 4-0, including two wins over Top 25 teams. What’s truly impressive is that this team has only allowed one goal over that stretch. That is not a great sign for the Huskies, who already have shooting woes.
UConn will have to look out for Harvard’s Avery Donahue and Hannah Pearce, who lead the Crimson in points with six apiece. Donahue was recently named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week for her assist against No. 19 Delaware, as well as her game winning goal in overtime at No. 21 Monmouth. If they hope to get back to a .500 record this weekend, the Huskies need to contain both Donahue and Pearce, while also putting the ball in the net.