This was a vital weekend for the University of Connecticut field hockey team, as it added two essential wins to its already impressive list, defeating conference rival Villanova on Friday 3-0 and No. 19 ranked Boston College in overtime on Sunday 2-1. The Huskies came into the weekend trying to recollect themselves after a tough loss to the best team in the country in North Carolina last Sunday, and that they did.
The first match of the weekend was at home at the Sherman Family Complex in Storrs against the Wildcats, who rode into Friday’s contest with a 8-5 record coming off a thrilling overtime victory versus Towson. Nova looked to keep the momentum heading up to Connecticut, but unfortunately for them, they could not overcome UConn’s superior offensive attack and defensive lines. The first goal of the afternoon came off the stick of Julia Bressler, assisted by Claire Jandewerth, in the 17th minute, putting the Huskies up early. Though the scoreboard seemed to indicate that the match was a stalemate for most of the rest of regulation, it was far from that, as UConn peppered Villanova with shots, leading to 18-5 and 9-3 differentials in total shots and shots on goal, respectively. As the game progressed, it was clear that the Wildcats were getting worn out by the aggression shown by the Huskies, and relented two goals in the final 10 minutes of regulation, first with a shot from Juana Garcia thanks to a pass from Natalie Brown, and a shot from Bressler, her second of the match. Having dealt the killing blows, the Huskies held onto their lead, making it a 3-0 final score.
Sunday’s match proved to be much more difficult despite still being at home, as the challengers were another top-25 team coming to town in the form of Boston College. Regardless of what their mediocre 6-7 record might say about them, Boston really did come to play. Bressler would once again put the Huskies on the board early in the second quarter, courtesy of a pass by Sol Simone. However, the Eagles responded: halfway through the 25th minute, Margo Carlin put one in off a Milagros Arteta assist, locking Boston and Connecticut in a 1-1 tie. From then on, the game became a defensive showcase, as both teams tried their hardest to score one more time. Perhaps due it being their second bout in three days, the Huskies were outmatched energy-wise, and allowed 18 shots on their goal while only being able to manage six on their opponents. Despite that, goalie Cheyenne Sprecher became a brick wall after giving up that first score, saving all four shots on goal after the second period, totaling five saves in the day. Without her, the match likely would not have headed to penalties, where she also performed well, only allowing one of five attempts to hit the back of the net. That proved to be enough, thanks to Aiyi Young and Simone getting the ball by Eagles goalie Carine Van Wiechen, and the Huskies eked out a 2-1 victory.
At the conclusion of this weekend, UConn will be left with only three more matches: two Big East games, one versus Georgetown in Washington, D.C. and another against Temple at home, and likely the biggest test this team could have heading into the postseason, a fixture with No. 2 University of Maryland. It will certainly be intriguing to see how the Huskies play as the head into the Big East Championships, as they will be seeking a conference title.