After an incredibly rough last week that saw two dominating losses at the hands of NCAA tournament-caliber opponents, the Huskies split their two matchups this week in a solid home-and-away series.
UConn got their second Big East win of the year on Friday, when they took down Providence in a blowout 3-0 victory. Despite the Friars’ better record heading into this contest, it was the Huskies who controlled the match from the jump, attacking early with four shots in the first quarter. The defense was locked down in this period, allowing none to PC’s offense.
It was UConn’s Claire Jandewerth who struck first, smacking one by the entire PC defense and keeper Asia Porter off of a penalty corner. This goal marked her second of the year, with the first coming off of a penalty stroke. It was the first of two scores in the quarter, as Nanne Eijkman faked out Porter in a 1-on-1 situation and snuck one to the back of the cage, notching her first career goal with just a few seconds on the clock. She hopes to make it the first of many.
The third quarter saw the Friars wake up a little, with a ton of back-and-forth play. Providence had perhaps their best chance of the game in the third on their only penalty corner of the period. The ball bounced around the circle for around 30 seconds, with keeper Cheyenne Sprecher making a couple nice saves.
Despite faltering just slightly to start the half, the Huskies regained their momentum in the fourth, allowing no shots to the Friars while tacking on three of their own. One of them proved fruitful, with Jandewerth netting her second of the day off of yet another penalty corner. This closed out the game for good, with UConn winning 3-0 and improving to 2-1 in the Big East.
An interesting fact of the day: this was the Huskies’ largest margin of victory this year, winning by three goals. With the rough schedule they’ve had this season, blowout wins have been hard to come by. While playing all Big East teams last year, they managed to put up eight wins by the same margin or larger.
The second game proved to be much tougher competition for the Huskies, with No. 17 Princeton having a similar sub-.500 record, but saw the Tigers facing ranked teams all year, much like UConn. Princeton took home this game, winning 2-1 in overtime thanks to an offensive explosion from the Ivy League school. The score was kept close due to some great defensive plays and a stellar job from Sprecher.
In this matchup, the Huskies were outshot 12-22, with UConn earning six shots on-goal to the Tigers’ 11. Princeton also earned three more penalty corners than the Huskies.
The Tigers came out completely dominant, shooting six different times in the first quarter while allowing none. The second quarter was a little more balanced, with each team getting a near-even share of opportunities. Despite plenty of chances, neither team was able to capitalize in the entirety of the first half.
Despite the shot differential, it was UConn that jumped out ahead first, with McKenna Sergi notching her team-high fourth on the season on a nice putback play. Unfortunately, this only stirred up the Tigers, who pounced on the Huskies for eight more shots in the third quarter alone, while only allowing one shot and a penalty corner. One of these shots was the equalizer, scored by team leader Beth Yeager in the last minute of the period.
After a mental reset to begin the fourth quarter, the Husky defense locked down Princeton, allowing only a couple shots while giving the team a real chance to retake the lead. A scoreless fourth period meant overtime, where UConn jumped out to an early opportunity with a penalty corner nearly off the bat. A very close back-and-forth quarter came to an end with three minutes to go, as it was Yeager once again off of a penalty corner, striking one off of Sprecher’s gloves that still found its way into the cage.
This loss drops the Huskies to 5-7 (2-1 in the Big East). They will assuredly fall slightly in the Coaches Poll this week, but hope to regain some confidence this Friday against a weak Quinnipiac team on the road.