For the fifth straight game, the UConn women’s lacrosse team will play a college from New York. It has so far gone 4-0 in that span, with this upcoming contest coming against the Hofstra Pride. Looking a bit more broadly, the 7-1 Huskies have won six straight games, reaching their best start since 2016. Their one loss so far came in a blowout at James Madison, a team which is currently ranked No. 15 and has beaten two straight ranked opponents.
Despite losing their past two games at home, one of which to No. 6 Stony Brook, the Pride have overall had a successful season. They sit at 6-3 and rank 38th in the nation according to Massey, while the Huskies are ranked 21st. Their best win actually happens to be the same as UConn’s last one, against SUNY Albany in a game they won by four.
The Pride are led by a two-headed monster, with the first being Katie Whelan, a graduate student out of Long Beach, New York. Whelan is having a terrific season, having scored 25 goals and dished out 10 assists. Whelan leads the team in both statistics, proving herself as its top offensive option with her incredible versatility. She has three games with five goals on the year, but her best performance came in Hofstra’s most recent win over Vanderbilt. In the victory, Whelan scored five times and assisted a pair of shots. UConn’s defense will really need to key in on the attacker if they want to prevent her from having a repeat performance.
The other head of the monster? That would be Taylor Mennella, the Smithtown, New York, product who is quietly having a very successful season. The midfielder has tacked on 19 goals and eight assists on the campaign, which is second on the team in both categories. Unlike Whelan, Mennella is unlikely to pop off for a seven-point game, but has demonstrated a great deal of consistency and reliability. In all nine games, the junior has not recorded less than two points or more than four. The Pride know what Mennella can offer every single game, and it is likely that the Huskies will just have to deal with her, minimizing other performers from beating them.
For UConn, the player to watch will be Kate Shaffer. The junior from West Hartford has been lighting up the stat sheet as of late, recording a total of 19 points in her last four games. This includes her last contest against UAlbany, where she scored six goals, which is a career high. No Husky other than Sydney Watson has been able to match Shaffer’s production in recent games, which is why it will be so crucial for UAlbany to contain her.
The biggest storyline to watch here will be how well UConn’s offense holds up. The Huskies have the 10th-most potent offense in the nation, while Hofstra’s defense ranks 15th. This clash is worth monitoring. If the score is high, then it’s likely UConn wins, but if it becomes a messy game, then the Pride could have the upper hand.
The game will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 26, and will air online on FloSports.