It’s not every day that you get to play a game against a top 10 team in the country. It’s also not every day that a player sets the program record for goals. In Saturday’s 14-13 overtime defeat against the No. 8 Denver Pioneers, both happened.
The Pioneers wasted no time getting the scoring going, with a Lauren Black goal 46 seconds in setting the tone for the game. The Huskies fired back quickly, though. Less than two minutes later, UConn star Sydney Watson drove in, trailing right, and nailed a shot into the top left corner of the net. This wasn’t just any goal though, as it tied Watson as the highest scorer in Huskies history at 186.
To follow it up, Grace Coon got a pass from Watson and slotted it past the keeper. On the next play, Watson fed a driving Kate Shaffer, who drilled a shot in soundly. Less than a minute later, the Watson-Shaffer combo connected again, helping the Huskies to grow a 4-1 lead early in the first. Over the course of the final minutes of the quarter though, Denver showed their poise and stormed back, with Ellie Curry, Reagan Wilson and Julia Gilbert each dropping shots in to tie it up at 4-4.
Shaffer secured her sixth consecutive hat trick to start the second frame, with a nice shot to take the lead. On the next play, Lia LaPrise maneuvered herself behind the net, dragging goalkeeper Emelia Bohi toward her and floated a nice pass over the defense and into the pocket of Stephanie Pallmucci, who sent the ball into the mostly vacant target. Six minutes later, Curry responded with a nice shot past the Husky defense, narrowing the deficit to one, but Madelyn George restored the advantage with a strong free play score with 58 ticks to go in the half. Just as the Huskies thought they were set to go into the break, Curry completed her hat trick, making it a 7-6 game with just nine seconds left.
Palmucci got the second half going with a nice score, but Kayla DeRose got the lead back to one less than a minute later. On a free play just a few minutes later, Watson made history in the scoring books, netting her 187th career goal to become the leading goal-scorer in UConn history. Watson was an All American last season and is on pace to repeat this year, so this goal is very meaningful to her as she looks to end her career on a high note with just four regular season games left. Bea Behrins added to the back-and-forth nature of the contest, putting in her first shot of the game. Despite not being known for her passing, Watson picked up her fourth dime of the game on a needle-threading pass to Coon inside, who hit the easy score. Thanks to back-to-back goals from Wilson and Sloane Kipp, the game was tied for the first time since the early second quarter at 10 apiece.
Coon became the second Husky of the day to get a hat trick with a goal about two minutes later, but Wilson tied it up again at 11. In the final two minutes of the third, LaPrise and Behrins traded goals, making the score 12-12 going into the fourth. Contrary to the back-and-forth and fast paced nature of the first three quarters, the final one had very little scoring. With 9:40 to go, Gilbert got her second goal of the game, giving the Pioneers their first lead since less than a minute and a half into the match.
The Huskies weren’t done yet though, with Shaffer finding George inside for the electric score. A scoreless final 8:33 of the game helped prove that 60 minutes was not enough, forcing overtime. With just 1:18 left in the overtime period, Gilbert took a pass and bounced the ball past Landyn White, effectively winning the game.
Even though it stings now, this is really a quite encouraging contest for this UConn women’s lacrosse team which now sits at 10-2. After not being competitive in their second game of the season against No. 13 James Madison, this overtime defeat on the road to a top 10 opponent proves that they belong on the same field as the best of the best. Shaffer and Watson each demonstrated their abilities to produce against quality competition, with six points each. There is a lot of promise for this group as the final stretch of the season approaches.
They will next face off against Villanova this Saturday at home.