What an up-and-down weekend for the University of Connecticut field hockey team.
After six wins against unranked teams this season in as many games, the No. 20 Huskies finally fell to a true upset on Friday after a 3-2 overtime loss at Temple University.
The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair, with both the Huskies and the Owls getting opportunities on-goal but failing to convert. It wasn’t until the first minute of the second quarter that the first point was scored, a Devin Kinzel strike that gave Temple an early 1-0 lead. UConn dominated the rest of the period, putting up five shots in the next 14 minutes, including an equalizer netted by junior defender Claire Jandewerth with eight minutes left in the half.
Each offense went on a scoring lull after that, with over 30 minutes of game time without a goal. The Huskies defense was put to the test in the third quarter, having seven shots and two penalty corners to contend with, none of which were fruitful. The offense couldn’t get much going in this period, taking zero shots in the fifteen-minute span.
The Owls’ attack-heavy approach finally paid off for them in the beginning of the fourth, capitalizing on a Kerrie Lorenz strike off of a penalty corner in the 51st minute. With their backs against the wall, the Huskies countered just four minutes of play later on a penalty corner of their own, finished by Jandewerth yet again. A scoreless rest of regulation sent this one into overtime.
The final period went by rather quickly, as the golden goal format sent UConn home before two minutes had expired. Temple found themselves with a quick corner, which was converted by Claire Thomas, her first of the season for the Owls, to put them on top 3-2.
This win for the Owls snapped a five-game losing streak. The results for UConn confirmed the writing on the wall from the team’s loss to Liberty back in September: The Huskies did not win a Big East regular season title for the first time since 2011.
The second game and regular season finale for UConn started off in a similarly dreary fashion, as No. 21 Delaware jumped out to an early lead. A Blue Hens corner in the sixth minute created the perfect opportunity for Ashlyn Carr, who found the back of the cage. With a team that has struggled against ranked teams this year, it looked like Connecticut was bound for a sub .500 record.
Credit to the Huskies for staying in the fight. The heroine in this one was yet again Claire Jandewerth, who netted another penalty corner goal off of feeds from Jess Dembrowski and Morgan Kaufmann just two minutes into the second quarter. Just like that, it was a brand new game.
There was a ton of back-and-forth play in this one, with the intensity level being the highest I’ve seen all season. For every attack the talented Blue Hens attempted, UConn came right back with one of their own.
This Halloween contest got a lot scarier for the Huskies after keeper Cheyenne Sprecher made a diving save, knocking the ball and Sprecher away from the goal. With an open net, Delaware was able to put the ball off the post and right in front of the net, but a fantastic save by Maddy DiPietro was able to keep the Blue Hens at bay.
A while later in the third, UConn was able to get their first lead of the match, with a long pass across the shooting circle off of a penalty corner finding Erica Solomen at the side of the cage with nobody in front of her. The Huskies lead 2-1.
In the fourth quarter, Delaware became desperate for an equalizing goal, causing them to get very aggressive and borderline dangerous on the field. UConn freshman Sophia Ugo had to leave the game after a ball to the head, and a different aggressive play caused Blue Hen Grace Miller to leave with a yellow card. The Huskies decided to employ more of a defensive strategy in this period, taking zero shots over that span. It worked well, as Delaware’s attempts proved unfruitful, giving UConn their fourth ranked win of the season.
After all was said and done, Connecticut finished their underwhelming season with a 10-10 record, going 5-2 in the Big East. Up next for the Huskies is the Big East Championship, hosted at Storrs’ own George J. Sherman Family Sports Complex. UConn is slated to play No. 16 Old Dominion on Friday in a semifinal matchup, with a potential final game against either No. 8 Liberty or Temple.