This Saturday, the No. 23 University of Connecticut Huskies (1-0) women’s lacrosse team will make the trip to Glencoe, MD to take on No. 13 James Madison University (0-2) in an inner-ranked matchup.
The Huskies are coming off of a scary, yet gritty, win against unranked Fairfield, in a contest that saw several lead changes and no breakdowns in the third period. Up three goals, UConn surrendered four straight over the course of just three minutes, essentially destroying their hard work. Fortunately, seasoned senior Grace Coon swooped in and saved the day, netting three goals in a six-minute span to put the Huskies up for good.
James Madison comes in without the start they had envisioned. In their season opener, the Dukes lost convincingly to No. 2 North Carolina at home, which was expected, but unfortunate nonetheless. Four days later, they hosted unranked Virginia Tech. James Madison was up 9-7 with 10 minutes remaining, but a pair of Hokie goals tied things up with three minutes to go. Just a minute after that, Tech netted another, putting them ahead and in a position to win the game. Even with a win against UConn, it is unlikely that they will remain as high as they are in next week’s poll.
The Dukes are led this year by redshirt sophomore attacker Isabella Peterson, who has been a force this year on the scoring end with five goals and no assists on just 11 shots. Four of these goals came in the Virginia Tech game, but she was unable to help them answer in the fourth quarter when they gave up the lead.
One thing to watch for with the Hokies is their assist rate. Only five of their 17 goals have come off assists, which is much lower than the rate they give up, sitting at 18 or 25. The Huskies have an even more extreme case of this, with only three of their 12 goals coming assisted. Look for many moments of individual brilliance from both sides, with neither side showing a ton of successful passing this year. This however may be a result of small sample size, with the teams playing a combined three games.
For the Huskies, the key player to watch will be Preseason All American Sidney Watson. Watson was as-advertised on Wednesday against Fairfield, scoring four goals and dishing out a pair of assists. If the Huskies want to win, Watson will need to find holes in the defense and convert at a high clip. Last year she scored 3.3 per game, but if she could keep it above four this year, that would be a welcome sight for Husky fans. This will also be a homecoming game for her, as a Maryland native.
Coon will also be a player to keep an eye on, coming in when she was needed this past week at Fairfield. She scored all three of her goals in the fourth quarter, demonstrating her toughness and resilience. If UConn finds themselves down early, they will likely look to Coon to ignite their offense.
The Huskies and Dukes have played against each other seven times, with UConn going 2-5 in that span. James Madison has won the past four, dominating the series as of late. Their last matchup came just a month before the shutdown in February of 2020 and the Dukes won 11-8 at the same venue they will be competing in on Saturday.
The contest can be streamed on FloSports and will start at 1 p.m.