On a beautiful Thursday afternoon in Washington D.C., the University of Connecticut Huskies took on the undefeated, No. 21 Georgetown University Hoyas in a contest that looked dim for the Huskies coming in. UConn entered the contest only having four conference wins on the year, with the best coming at home against seventh-place Marquette. Nothing about their resume indicated that they would take down second-place and nationally-ranked Georgetown. However, through will, grit and determination, the under-Huskies pulled off the biggest upset of their season to get themselves into the conference playoffs.
The contest started a bit slow for both teams with a limited number of shots across the board. Sophomore Kaitlyn Mahoney and the defense did a great job of keeping things in control so the Huskies would have the chance to take the lead later on in the match. As halftime came and went, that opportunity arrived in the 57th minute, as red-hot Jaydah Bedoya received a pass in the right side of the box. She collected it and sent the ball laterally right past the outstretched arms of Hoya goalkeeper Allie Augur to a waiting Lucy Cappadona. Cappadona only needed one touch to send the ball into the vacant net, scoring what would ultimately be the game-winner.
For the next 33 minutes, the defense stood strong, not allowing many shots to get through. When the final whistle sounded, the Huskies got the win thanks to this resilience and found themselves on the way to the playoffs.
The performance was masterful and all UConn could have hoped for, adding a storybook touch to what was already quite the adventure of a season. At points throughout the year, chances of success did not look great. But the group, led by its sophomore core, stayed together and pulled off a regular season of which they could be proud.
With the top three conference spots filled by Xavier, Georgetown and Butler, and UConn and St. John’s having clinched their respective spots, there are three teams contending for the final spot: Providence, DePaul and Marquette. If Providence wins, then it shoots up to fourth or fifth, pushing UConn to sixth to play Butler. If Providence loses, then the winner of the game between Marquette and DePaul goes to Indianapolis for the first round.
Comeback Kids: After falling all the way to ninth place in the Big East at one point this season, the Huskies rallied and pulled out some huge victories to get back in it. None was bigger than Thursday’s in D.C., a game that will either send the Huskies to Indianapolis to play Butler, or to Queens to play St. John’s.
Sophomore Core: The three best performers on Thursday — and throughout the last stretch of the season — were all sophomores, which is a great omen for the future. Expect several years of success up ahead for the Huskies, as they look to cultivate their talent and make more meaningful runs in the Big East. Who knows, maybe they can make a run at the NCAA tournament this year.