After a disappointing senior day collapse on Sunday, the University of Connecticut field hockey team looks to finish the season on a stronger note when it travels to Temple on Friday and hosts No. 21 Delaware on Sunday. These will be the last games of the regular season before tournament play begins.
No. 20 UConn (9-9, 5-1 Big East) has had an up-and down season thus far, facing a tough schedule but consistently winning games it’s been projected to win. The Huskies haven’t beaten a top 10 opponent, but they haven’t lost to any unranked teams either. They’ve split three of their last four weekend slates, and gone 5-5 in their last 10 games.
The 2020 Big East champions are mainly led by a three-headed attack of Sophia Ugo, Claire Jandewerth and McKenna Sergi, who have eight, seven and seven goals on the year, respectively. While these goal totals aren’t leading the nation by any means, there is something to be said about sharing the ball on the offensive end, as really anyone can score at any time on this team. Eleven different Huskies have found the back of the cage this season, including senior Lindsay Dickenson, who scored her first of the year early on in Sunday’s game against No. 20 UMass. After 18 games, this squad is still full of surprises.
Ugo, a freshman, has been a bright spot for the offense all year. Hailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, she has taken Storrs by storm, finding a spot in the starting lineup and making an immediate impact. After the loss of former leading scorer Sophie Hamilton, who had 19 goals and 15 assists during a shortened 2020 season, Ugo provides hope for an impact attacker of that caliber in the future.
While the offense has held its own this year, it’s the defensive unit that has been really keeping this team in games. Led by graduate student keeper Cheyenne Sprecher, the Huskies’ defense has accumulated seven shutouts on the year and allowed only 1.5 goals per contest. Considering the majority of the team’s games have been against ranked opponents, this is no easy feat. UConn looks to improve upon these numbers this weekend.
Temple (7-9, 3-3 Big East) has had an underwhelming season, as it is currently on a five-game losing streak. And considering the Owls have yet to beat a ranked opponent this year, a sixth straight loss is likely. Some of their biggest wins include those over Big East rivals Quinnipiac, Providence, and Villanova, all of which were decided by one point or penalty strokes.
The Owls are led by freshman Julianne Kopec, who has five goals and ten total points on the season. She has been very quiet offensively as of late, especially during the current losing streak, not having found the back of the cage since Sept. 26 against Delaware. There haven’t been a ton of opportunities for Kopec over that span, as she took six shots in the seven games since. The most recent scorer for Temple is McKenna Burkhardt, who slipped one by the keeper in a blowout loss to No. 9 Liberty. Look for the Huskies to get their eighth shutout of the year in this matchup.
Delaware (9-7, 4-1 Colonial Athletic Association) has had an interesting year. After dropping five straight early on, including four to ranked teams, the team has finally found its footing, as it upset No. 9 St. Joseph’s and won seven of their last eight games. The one loss — a 4-0 home blowout to conference rival James Madison — seems to be an anomaly.. Expect this team to come to Storrs prepared to fight for its second ranked victory of the season.
The Blue Hens have a clear-cut scorer in sophomore Julia Duffhuis. The 2020 CAA Rookie of the Year has built upon a strong freshman campaign, notching 12 goals for Delaware (out of the backfield, no less). She currently ranks 17th nationally in goals per game. Assumedly, her favorite teammate is junior Ashlyn Carr, who leads the team in assists with 11 thus far. This is good enough for fourth in the country in assists per game. If the UConn defense wants to continue its successful year, it will need to shut down both of these players.