UConn Sports Season Recaps

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Football

UConn plays against UMass in Amherst, MA on Saturday, Oct. 9. UMass beat UConn 27-13. Photo by Taylor Coonan/The Daily Campus

Evan Rodriguez

For UConn football in 2021, it was a rebuilding year for the program. Headlined by the dismissal of longtime head coach Randy Edsall, the rise of young guns like Tyler Phommachanh and the hiring of a great football mind in Jim Mora, it was a season of highs and lows. The team suffered plenty of injuries to impact players like Phommachanh and Cam Ross, that certainly would have made a difference in close matchups like the team’s heartbreaking loss to Vanderbilt. Highlighting their 1-11 record, the Huskies gave a lowly UMass squad their only win, in what was certainly not what the program had in mind heading into the season. However, the future’s looking bright with not only the hiring of Mora, but also a revamped look for a UConn team that hopes to completely turn their season around in 2022.


Men’s soccer

Cole Stefan

It wasn’t the most successful season for the UConn men’s soccer team. UConn went 7-7-2 and all seven of their losses were decided by a goal. Despite having the best home game attendance in college soccer, the Huskies went 6-3-2 in 11 games at home. UConn also went 2-6-2 and earned eight points in Big East play, finishing 10th in the conference, with both of their wins coming against teams that participated in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. The Huskies do have some bright spots though. Mateo Leveque led the team in points with 12 and took home the Big East Freshman of the Year award as a result while Okem Chime led the team in goals with four, two of which came in the first game of the season. Put them together with sophomore studs in Jayden Reid (11 points) and Moussa Wade (10 points) and the Huskies have a foundation that they can build off of. The biggest question mark will be in goal as Jahmali Waite is out of eligibility, but with 2000 national champion Christopher Gbandi taking over the reins of Ray Reid, the future is bright for UConn to return to national prominence.


Women’s Soccer

Stratton Stave

Although the number of tangible accolades were limited for the Huskies, they made a ton of progress and will return most of their core for next year. They started out  the year strong, winning five of their first six games. Their next six games proved to be a fair bit tougher, losing four, including a 5-0 blowout at home versus brown. Despite losing two of their first three conference games, they continued to tread water, but managed to stay afloat. Their consecutive double overtime thrillers helped the Huskies get over .500 in conference for the first time. Things were not looking good when they needed to win one of their last two games, with both being against ranked opponents to make the Big East Tournament. Even though they dropped their first against No. 17 Xavier on Senior night, they pulled through at No. 21 Georgetown and collected a signature win. The season ended early though, with a shutout defeat at Butler in the first round of the BET. Sophomore Jaydah Bedoya had a great year with six goals and four assists (both were team bests) and will look to build on that in her final two years. 


Field hockey

Jonathan Synott

While the team finished with an even 11-11 record, the Huskies were much better than that would indicate, falling victim to a brutally difficult schedule. Playing top-tier teams in the country week in and week out made it hard for UConn to get into a rhythm, missing out on their first Big East Championship in a decade this past season. Losing star Sophie Hamilton after the 2020 season left Connecticut without a top scoring threat, leading other Huskies to rise to the occasion. One of those newfound scoring options is Sophia Ugo, the 2021 Big East Freshman of the Year, who was also named to the conference all-tournament team. This gritty UConn team had to prove themselves all year, picking up big ranked wins over Old Dominion (twice), Harvard and Delaware among others. For their efforts, they stayed ranked all year long and finished the season at No. 19 in the nation. Losing former Big East Defensive Player of the Year Cheyenne Sprecher and All-Big East First Teamers Abby Gooderham and Jessica Dembrowski will be huge blows to this squad, but expect the Huskies to remain competitive amongst the top dogs in the conference and the country in 2022.


Volleyball

Cole Stefan

It was a season for the ages. UConn hosted a playoff game for the first time ever against the University of North Florida and beat them in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship before advancing to the semifinals and bowing out against the Valparaiso University Beacons. If the playoffs were not enough, the Huskies, who went 13-5 in Big East play, picked up their first win against a ranked opponent in program history when they beat the then No. 19 Creighton University Bluejays on Oct. 16. The season was also marked by major milestones as Caylee Parker recorded her 1,000th career kill and Wichita State University transfer McKayla Wuensch recorded her 2,000th career assist. UConn loses two assistant coaches in Matt Scott and Abby Gilleland but has named Peter Netsingha and Jill Sikes as their replacements. The Huskies set the program standard for success this season, and with both a six-person recruiting class and Parker possibly returning for a fifth year, head coach Ellen Herman-Kimball has the pieces in place to get the Huskies into the NCAA Tournament.


Cross country

Jonathan Synott

The women’s cross country team enjoyed a successful season, starting the year in the USTFCCCA Preseason Coaches’ National Poll, climbing as high as No. 21 in the country and No. 1 regionally this year. They started out the season red hot, winning both the Marist Invitational and the Ken O’Brien Minuteman Invitational as a team. A solid fourth place finish out of 22 teams at the Coast to Coast Battle of Beantown was a success, and despite a disappointing showing at the Nuttycombe Invitational, the Huskies were able to bounce back with third and fourth place finishes in the Big East Championship and NCAA Regionals, respectively. UConn was led by three All-Region runners, seniors Mia Nahom and Melissa Zammitti, as well as freshman Chloe Thomas. The trio swept the 13th through 15th spots in the NCAA Regionals, providing a big boost to the team score. While Nahom and Zammitti will be big losses come next fall, Thomas should help lead this team to national prominence once again.


Women’s basketball

Cole Stefan

The UConn Women’s Basketball team defeats Notre Dame 73-54 in Gampel Pavilion on Dec. 5, 2021. Photo by Kevin Lindstrom/The Daily Campus

This team went through hell and back. The worst of it was losing former National Player of the Year Paige Bueckers for over two months when she injured her knee in early December. The Huskies also lost six games total, their most under Geno Auriemma since 2004-05. Despite the injuries and struggles, the Huskies won their 20th Big East tournament championship and extended their Final Four streak after an emphatic double overtime victory against North Carolina State University in the Elite Eight. The Huskies also overcame their Final Four woes against Stanford University in Minneapolis and went to their 12th national championship game, where they fell short against the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. Despite losing in the national title game for the first time in program history, the future is bright for the Huskies. Gone are Christyn Williams, Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Evina Westbrook, but UConn just added Lou Lopez-Senechal from Fairfield University and welcome new recruits in Ayanna Patterson and Ice Brady. Put them together with full seasons from Bueckers and Azzi Fudd among others and the Huskies will compete for a national title with vengeance on their mind.


Men’s basketball

Jonathan Synott

It was a season of ups and downs for the Huskies, who jumped out to an 8-1 start to the year before injuries and a COVID-19 pause saw a bit of a slump. UConn really had to prove their worth this year, dipping in and out of the AP Poll throughout the course of the season until finally finishing at No. 21. The regular season saw plenty of successes, as big man Adama Sanogo stepped up his game, earning All-Big East First Team honors alongside teammate RJ Cole. Freshman Jordan Hawkins flashed potential greatness as well. Notable wins over teams like Villanova and Auburn, as well as a third-place finish in the Big East, was a great victory for a team that just lost James Bouknight to the NBA Draft. Postseason play was not kind to UConn, as tough semifinal loss to future Final Four squad Villanova and an NCAA Tournament upset loss to New Mexico State had the Huskies’ season come to an abrupt end. Despite this, as well as the loss of nine players to graduation and the transfer portal, Connecticut is bringing back a core group of guys to be excited about come this winter.


Men’s hockey

Stratton Stave

Coach Mike Cavanaugh and his Huskies had one of the best seasons in program history, finally proving to everyone that he can find success at Connecticut. The Huskies picked up a key early victory at Boston University, but then lost a pair at Ohio State. Sitting at a disappointing 2-3, the IceBus rolled into No. 20 Northeastern and picked up a 5-3 win to start a four game win streak. Then, four straight ranked games tossed the Huskies off their path, losing the first three in frustrating fashion. They won the fourth against No. 15 UMass Lowell and demolished Colgate 6-1. After they lost four of their next five games, things started to look up. The IceBus went 1-1 at the Connecticut Ice Tournament and went on a nice run of wins, putting them into the rankings. Despite losing three of their last four going into the Hockey East Tournament, Cavanaugh had his guys ready, beating No. 16 Boston University in the quarterfinals and No. 10 Northeastern in the semis. They pushed No. 11 UMass to the brink, but couldn’t come through, losing in overtime. Even though UConn barely missed the NCAA tournament the season was an overall win, finishing 20-16, ranked No. 19. 


Women’s hockey

Sam Zelin

2021-2022 was women’s hockey’s winningest season in its over 20-year history. With records of 24-9-4 overall and 16-7-4 in the Hockey East, the Huskies went on an incredible run, falling just one game shy of the Hockey East Championship, losing to Northeastern in the final. The team was a mix of veterans and up-and-comers, with each player having an important role in the group’s success. Graduate forward Morgan Wabick led the team in points, with 34 overall (13 goals, 21 assists), while five others accumulated over 20 (Natalie Snodgrass, Viki Harkness, Taylor Wabick, Danielle Fox and Summer-Rae Dobson). Both of UConn’s primary goaltenders finished the season with 12 wins, as freshman Megan Warrener, who earned USCHO all-rookie honors, proved she could keep up with senior Samantha Carpentier-Yelle. The duo averaged a .930 save percentage on the year, while racking up nine shutouts between them. Overall, the team finished the season ranked No. 11 on USCHO’s national rankings, after spending multiple weeks in the top 10. Its only loss in the Hockey East tournament was to q Northeastern team that went all the way to the Frozen Four, and the 24-win season this team put together set a program record by 5 games.


Indoor track

Stratton Stave

This indoor track season, the UConn men and women’s teams were completely dominant in their own right. The men started the season out strong with a first place finish out of eight at the Beantown Challenge and didn’t look back. They then headed to the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge, where the Huskies grabbed gold out of all 21 teams. They finished out the campaign strong with a massive win at the Big East Championship and then another victory at the 1C4As, where they finished atop the 44 team field. The women’s team saw similar success, also coming in first in the Beantown Challenge, while making the top three at Columbia. In the Big East Championships, they followed suit of the men, grabbing the top spot. They also had an impressive showing at the ECAC Championship, where they finished first out of 39 teams to cap off a dominant year. 


Swimming and Diving

Ajeeth Vellore

The women had a great season by any standards. Their 6-3 record put them at the top of the Big East, a position that they had not held in some time, and they showed poise in their in-conference matchups as well. And though they eventually lost to Villanova in the Big East Championships, there is still quite a lot of promise with this team. Underclassmen Maggie Donlevy and Niamh Hofland showed that they have some potential to be really great posting awesome individual and relay times. That’s not to discount the upperclassmen, however: Katelyn Walsh broke a Wolff-Zackin Natatorium record, while Catherine Fazio and Charlotte Proceller put the team on their backs during some meets. And then there’s the spectacular diving team: freshman Julia Pioso and sophomore Analaura Faoro got better as the season went on and kept taking the top two spots on the podium. This team is young and has a bright future ahead of it: be on the lookout for a Big East title from these Huskies in the coming years.


Baseball

Jonathan Synott

The UConn Baseball team defeats Bryant University 9-1 at Elliot Ballpark. The Huskies will face URI next in a three-game series this weekend. Photo by Julie Spillane/The Daily Campus

What a historic season for the Huskies, and it’s still far from over. At the time of writing this, UConn sits at No. 15 in the entire nation, dominating their competition en route to a 37-8 record. The pitching staff has been on a tear, combining for an ERA of under 3.0, good for a top-five mark in the country. The weekend starting trio of Austin Peterson, Pat Gallagher and Enzo Stefanoni have been stellar, with a deep bullpen filling in the gaps. At the plate, every part of the lineup is to be feared, as the entire team has a combined OPS of over .875. Erik Stock is looking like one of the top hitters in the country with a .419 batting average, and graduate transfer Casey Dana has provided quite the impact as well, driving in an average of a run a game. There’s still 11 games to go in the regular season, so look for this team to continue their dominance before dealing some damage in the postseason.


Softball

Sam Zelin

While it is far from over, the 2022 UConn softball season is already one for the history books. Currently, the Huskies sit atop the Big East standings with only three games left in the season, a finale matchup against No. 2 Villanova to decide who gets the No. 1 seed for the upcoming tournament. Two players leading the team this year are shortstop Briana Marcelino and starting pitcher Elise Sokolsky. Marcelino leads the team with a .370 batting average and also leads in home runs with nine, RBI with 41, doubles with 12, walks with 23 and stolen bases with a perfect 34-34 record (not only the most this season, but the most ever for a Husky). Sokolsky has a 19-5 record in the circle, has a 2.51 ERA and has thrown five complete games. These two are far from the only stars of UConn’s roster. In addition to Marcelino, Lexi Hastings and Reese Guevarra have also broken the old stolen base record, with the team as a whole currently tallying 119 swiped bags. Overall, the lineup is batting .285 on the season, while the pitching staff recently brought its staff-wide ERA down below three to 2.95. After Villanova, UConn will head to the Big East tournament, and from there on, who knows what will happen!


Women’s lacrosse

Evan Rodriguez

In 2022, The women’s lacrosse team was historic in what is one of the best seasons in program history. Not only was the team undefeated at home, but the Huskies were flat out dominant. Whether that was the offensive contributions of players like Sydney Watson or the goalkeeping of Big East saves leader Landyn White, the team was feared throughout the country and were nationally recognized throughout the year. The Huskies had depth throughout their lineup with contributions from players like Grace Coon, Kate Shaffer, Lia LaPrise, and many more. Wins against teams like Boston College showed the true determination of a team that wouldn’t go down without a win. Now, UConn heads into the postseason where they’ll look to claim revenge against Denver in the Big East tournament semifinals.


Outdoor track

Stratton Stave

Although the indoor track season ended in style for both the men’s and women’s teams, we won’t have the same level of closure for outdoor track, since the season is still going on. The men started off at home with the UConn Dog Fight, where they preserved the home turf with a first place finish out of six, which was highlighted by a dominant 5k that saw the Huskies hold all top three slots. The Wilton Invitational was a bit more of a struggle with UConn finishing eighth out of 19, but they came back home for the UConn Northeast Challenge and put on a clinic, finishing first again out of 22. The women saw more success in the same three meets they competed in. The UConn Dog Fight saw the Huskies take home a first place finish, with them grabbing the top three 5K positions, just like the men. The Wilton Invitational was friendly to the women, as they finished in second, while also dominating the Northeast Challenge, keeping gold in Storrs. Both teams now look forward to the Big East Championship and the NCAA Tournament in the coming weeks.


Men’s golf

Nick Spinali

Following a 2020-21 campaign that saw the Huskies claim the Big East Championship crown, the UConn Men’s Golf team has pieced together yet another formidable year in 2021-22. In the 12 tournaments that Connecticut participated in over the fall and the spring, the team placed in the Top Five 10 times as the team showed both resilience and consistency all season long. The season was highlighted by a tournament victory at the Big East Match Play Event back in February, while sophomores Caleb Manuel (UConn Invitational at GreatHorse; Big East Championship) and Tyler Dallahan (Bash at the Beach) each claimed individual championships at some point this year. Led all year by Manuel and Dallahan, along with seniors Jimmy Nelson and Nick Hampoian, sophomore Jimmy Paradise and freshman Trevor Lopez, the Huskies earned a third place finish as a team in the Big East Championship to put the final cherry on top of their successful season. Manuel, fresh off of being named to the Second Team All-Big East in addition to his individual Big East Championship victory, will compete in the NCAA Regional from May 16-18 in hopes of advancing to the NCAA Championship in late May.


Women’s tennis

Ajeeth Vellore

The UConn women’s tennis team saw some big ups and downs throughout the year, as they finished their regular season off with a 9-11 record overall and a 1-2 record in the Big East. Though they started off well, going 7-3 in their first ten meets, they stumbled to a 2-8 record the rest of the way. A lot of that can be attributed to certain injuries: just as an example, despite a great year from Julieanne Bou, she struggled staying on the court, and it became difficult for the rest of the team to make up for their no. 1 singles not being available. Still, we got to see stretches of great play out of others, like Leonie Hoppe, Isabel Petri Bere and Doga Selen Takunyaci, who all shouldered the burden of the team as best as they could through both their singles and doubles play. Though it was great to see them win their first meet (which was against Villanova) in the Big East tournament, it was obvious to see that they wouldn’t go much further, as they got stomped in the second round by St. John’s. Regardless of what the results of the season were, however, we learned a lot about this team, and I’m sure they learned a lot about themselves. Thanks to the hardships the Huskies faced in the second half of the season, I’m sure this team will come out the gate with determination next season looking to prove people wrong.

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