UConn came into this weekend with a perfect record of 6-0, after defeating Seton Hall University on Jan. 14. The Huskies wasted no time getting to business against Central Connecticut State University and the University of New Hampshire, beating them both and improving to an impressive 8-0 record. These meets were no sure thing, with both opponents coming in with one single loss each. The importance of winning cannot be understated, as Connecticut looks to make a run at a Big East Championship. With these two wins, the women are undefeated in dual meets this season for the first time in program history.
This past Friday, UConn defeated CCSU by a score of 188-111. The Huskies won first in 11 of the 16 events. Typically when you hear that, you would think the winning team cruised to an easy victory, however, that was not the case. The Huskies were tested early in the first event, with the 200 yard medley race, as swimmers Kayla Mendonca, Angela Gambardella, Charlotte Proceller and Maggie Donlevy came together to put up a time of 1:45.16 en route to a victory in an event which was decided by less than four seconds. However, those four seconds gave the Huskies 11 points compared to CCSU only receiving two points.
Despite this, the Blue Devils fought to the end, namely in the 200 yard freestyle where CCSU swimmer Katie Czulewicz narrowly beat out Husky Niamh Hofland. Another close match of the day was between UConn’s Mendoca and Central Connecticut’s Shannon Welcome that saw Mendoca edge out Welcome by .6 seconds. The importance of these close wins for the Huskies are so crucial, because they netted five points over their in-state rival, even though the times were so similar.
In the second meet of the weekend, UConn defeated UNH 186-114 in a meet where UConn got ahead from the get-go, as the Huskies took gold in the first six events. The Huskies won in 13 of the 16 events, in a meet that was much closer than the scoreboard or these statistics suggest.
Take the women’s 100 yard freestyle, University of New Hampshire swimmer Audrey Mahoney put up a time of 52.90 seconds, which normally is good enough for victory, however, UConn’s Donlevy bested it by .11 seconds. To put in context how important this victory was, Mahoney only got four points, despite finishing with almost an identical time. UNH’s victories were not by any large margins either, as in the women’s 50 yard freestyle, Mahoney outpaced Donlevy by only .01 seconds— not even a blink of an eye. In 11 of the 16 events, the winner was decided by two seconds, meaning the Huskies weren’t exactly blowing UNH out.
“We knew they were going to be tough opponents and had a very strong season but so have we,” noted Ella Epes. “We are hungrier than ever for a conference title right now. We knew that staying strong together through this meet as we’ve done for every other meet would result in the strongest results possible and that’s what we did.”
A conference title is certainly in reach with gritty wins, such as this one where the Huskies never let up on the gas pedal. This win by the Huskies was much more rewarding considering the fact that they lost to the Wildcats last season by a score of 158-142.
Next on tap for the Huskies will be Feb. 4 against Providence College which is also the Huskies’ final home meet of the season. They hope to keep their perfect record intact in search of the ever-elusive Big East title.