As the University of Connecticut field hockey team makes a push towards the conference playoffs, they face some bigger challenges along the way. This weekend was no exception, with a meeting with a Big East rival in Quinnipiac and a bout with the best field hockey team in the country in North Carolina. Unfortunately, UConn could only manage to grab one of the two matches, with a 4-1 win versus the Bobcats and a 3-0 loss to the Tar Heels.
Connecticut began their weekend taking on Quinnipiac University at the Sherman Family Sports Complex in Storrs, and the game got off to an odd start: the Bobcats were the first ones to put the ball in the net, thanks to their very own Emilia Massarelli. But as the game wore on, it was clear that it was UConn’s match to lose. After the early goal, the Huskies only allowed a single shot for the entirety of the rest of the game, as they proceeded to pelt Quinnipiac with 33 total shots. That is a staggering differential that eventually showed itself in the final score, as Julia Bressler netted an equalizer in the 26th minute with an assist from Frances Carstens, Madi Herb gave the Huskies the lead in the 37th thanks to a well-placed Sol Simone pass, and Jasmijn Damman sealed the deal with two goals in the last ten minutes of the game (with help from the sticks of Madison Dipietro and McKenna Sergi) to end it at 4-1. UConn completely outpaced the Bobcats, thanks to the aforementioned shot differential as well as the 16-0 difference in penalty shots. The Huskies had their aggression today, and it really showed in those two stats specifically. Now, it was time to try to carry that into their next match with the No.1 ranked team in college field hockey.
UConn tried, but the Tar Heels were just on another level coming in. Only five minutes into the match, UNC’s Erin Matson put in her first goal of the season to get her team on top, and from then on, it seemed as though North Carolina held the advantage, consistently outshooting Connecticut each quarter. Eventually, Matson would score a penalty chance and Raleigh Heck would net another one soon after to put the score at 3-0 roughly 50 minutes into the match. The score would not change, despite the Huskies best efforts and the Tar Heels would finish off a Sunday afternoon in Storrs with a solid and convincing win.
UConn now is in an interesting position: should it win the majority of the rest of the games on its schedule, it may not move up in the rankings due to recent losses to then No. 9 Princeton and No. 1 North Carolina. However, if it does manage to take its last match of the season, one against current No. 2 Maryland, there is a serious chance it could once again be in the top 10, and perhaps even top 5, of the country.