After a disappointing loss to then-No. 16 Liberty University last week, the University of Connecticut field hockey team looks to rebound and find their stride again this weekend with an important pair of matches: first, a showdown with Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island on Friday at 4 p.m. Then, an encounter with some more ranked talent in No. 9 Princeton at home at the Sherman Family Sports Complex in Storrs, Connecticut on Sunday at 12 p.m.
The Huskies’ last match seemed a lot like a trap game, and it certainly played out as such: they had trouble getting out of the gate with any of their usual aggression and it cost them, as they went down 3-0 not even 20 minutes in. There are still reasons the team can keep their heads high, like the fact that goalie Cheyenne Sprecher still made eight saves. Additionally, the passive play dwindled as the game went on, since the Huskies got most of their five shots on goal in the second half. That being said, this team knows that if they want to be the best, they’re going to have to do better than putting themselves in a place where they must seek moral victories. They have had about a week to unwind after a defeat at the hands of a conference rival, so they’ll likely try their best to spring right into action when they start their play this weekend in Providence.
Speaking of Providence, the Friars have an interesting up-and-down year. They hold a 4-5 overall record, but have yet to lose within the Big East after contests with Georgetown and Villanova. As a matter of fact, they’ve been turning it around lately, with three straight victories, including the two aforementioned conference wins along with another sandwiched between those in Bucknell in a double-overtime shootout. And even before that, though they were 1-5, they had some close losses versus ranked competition, like a 3-1 loss to No. 6 Iowa and 2-0 loss to No. 22 Massachusetts. Looking more into their most recent win, they routed Georgetown 4-0, lighting up the scoreboard for the first three quarters. The Friars managed to get more shots on goal than the Hoyas could, and that opportunism seemed to win them the day, as the teams were neck-and-neck otherwise. This is definitely a squad that UConn can’t look past, as they will be serious competition.
Just as for Providence, Princeton’s record does not tell the whole story. They’re a mediocre 5-4 on the season overall, with only one Ivy League match played (which they won against the University of Pennsylvania, 2-1), but have put up great fights against the nation’s best teams in No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Northwestern. The former was a 4-3 loss in Chapel Hill, North Carolina that began their season, and the latter was an even closer 2-1 overtime defeat at home for the Princeton Tigers. They also had an impressive win against No. 4 Maryland, where they won 4-3 in overtime. However, they also have some confounding losses, like in their previous match versus Lafayette at home. The Tigers never trailed in the game, but continually let the Leopards back in, with an especially egregious goal towards the end of the third quarter only 15 seconds after they took a 2-1 lead. If Princeton wants to win against UConn, they can’t afford to make mistakes like that.
This weekend will be yet another opportunity for the Huskies to prove themselves to the field hockey world. A win in each of these contests would reset the momentum in the right direction for this team, which would give them the chance to pick up speed before their biggest meeting of the season against North Carolina next Sunday.