After last weekend’s big sweep of Quinnipiac and Boston University that saw a huge spike in goals for the first time this season, the No. 17 UConn Huskies really kept their momentum going, defeating Villanova 6-2 before falling to No. 8 Maryland 3-2.
The first game went according to plan for UConn, who made quick work of the Wildcats. In the beginning two minutes of the contest the Huskies struck pay dirt, with McKenna Sergi finding the back of the cage. This set the pace for the rest of the game, as there were plenty of scores to come.
The second quarter was arguably UConn’s most dominant, seeing as they scored twice on six shots. On the defensive end, goalie Cheyenne Sprecher and the back line allowed no shot attempts. Leading scorer and freshman phenom Sophia Ugo tallied her eighth goal of the year thanks to a Sergi assist, while junior Claire Jandewerth added her second score in two games to close out the half.
Perhaps inspired by a rousing halftime speech from head coach Joanie Milhous, Villanova came out in the third quarter much more competitive than before. To kick things off, Amanda Middleman slipped one by Sprecher within a minute of the second half whistle. Add a Sabine de Ruijter strike five minutes later, and all of a sudden it was 3-2 Huskies. With the Wildcats controlling the ball for much of the period, it became a completely different game.
The Huskies were quick to snap out of their funk, however, controlling the match for the entirety of the fourth quarter. An offensive explosion kicked off in the 50th minute, with Abby Gooderham earning her second goal on the season to put UConn up by two with little time remaining. If that didn’t put the nail in the coffin, two quick strikes by Ugo and Madi Herb certainly did. After all was said and done, the Huskies walked away with a convincing 6-2 win and a winning record for the first time all season.
The stars of this show were undoubtedly the two freshman scorers Ugo and Herb. They combined for a hat trick, with Ugo increasing her lead as the top scorer for UConn. This was Herb’s third goal in as many games, a testament to her increased role in this offense and on the team as a whole. As the season wanes and the postseason approaches, look for these two to continue to make an impact.
In the second game, things looked a lot tougher. With such a good competitor in the Maryland Terrapins, it’s very difficult to come out on the road and win this game, especially as a team with no wins against those with top 10 teams under their belt.
As much as the offense was cruising the last three games, it came to a full stop in the first three quarters of Sunday’s game. The Huskies couldn’t even get a shot up in the first 30 minutes, while the Terrapins accumulated eight in what appeared to be a complete bloodbath.
The UConn defense started out cold in three of the four quarters, allowing a goal within the first six minutes of the first, third and fourth quarters. After 46 minutes of play, the score was 3-0 Maryland.
Despite being down, the Huskies never considered themselves out. With just five minutes left to play, the team earned their first goal of the game thanks to a clutch penalty corner and captain Kourtney Kennedy’s first score of the season. Not two minutes later, captain of consistency Sergi was back at it with her second goal of the weekend with a low strike that found its way to the end of the cage to make it a one point deficit.
The lack of time proved to be too much for UConn, who even pulled Sprecher out of goal in favor of an extra attacker in the final minutes. The rally would stop there as the Huskies ran out of time, falling 3-2.
While Maryland had plenty of opportunities (16 to be exact), UConn did a solid job of keeping the No. 8 ranked team at bay, allowing only three goals. Sprecher had a decent day, racking up eight saves in this one.
Despite the loss, the Huskies proved that they have multiple scorers on the team and are capable of making big comeback runs against high quality teams. If this game was in Storrs, who knows what the outcome would have been. Despite getting outshot 16-6, UConn clearly made the most of their opportunities and that’s one of the most important objectives for this team. If they are going to get anywhere this postseason, the Huskies will need to keep up this high level of play.
UConn continues its season next weekend when they take on both Georgetown and No. 21 UMass at home on Friday and Sunday, respectively.