After a long wait, the UConn women’s lacrosse team is set to kick off their season on Wednesday, hosting the Fairfield Stags at 2 p.m.
The Huskies are coming off of a successful season where they earned a share of second place in the Big East and made it to the semifinals of the conference championship. Their stellar 13-5 record was enough to propel them into one of the final spots of the NCAA Tournament, where Connecticut fell to No. 10 James Madison. They come into this year looking to build upon previous successes.
The Huskies started and ended last season ranked No. 21 in the nation, and the IWLCA Poll doesn’t have them far off from that mark yet again. UConn entered the preseason ranked No. 24, but after other Division I programs got a jumpstart to the season, the Huskies fell out of the poll. With a solid start to the year, expect them to climb back into the rankings.
Projected to finish third in the Big East this year, Connecticut boasts four Preseason All-Big East Teamers: attackers Grace Coon and Lia LaPrise, defender Ariana Kline and goalie Landyn White. Each member of the quartet made either first or second team all-conference last season. White, last year’s Big East Goalkeeper of the Year, should provide a massive boost to this UConn defense game in and game out. The Huskies are certainly excited to have the All-American back for a graduate season.
While the roster provides plenty of returning firepower, one integral part of last year’s recipe for success is no longer in Storrs: attacker Sydney Watson. The Big East Midfielder of the Year and All-American graduated last May and was drafted No. 6 overall in the Athletes Unlimited Draft. In 2022, Watson added team-highs in 58 goals, 23 assists, 81 points and 166 draw controls, tying LaPrise for the assist total.
Watson had an illustrious career in Storrs, departing as the program’s leading scorer and sitting at No. 2 in total points. She owns every single draw control record in UConn history, and her 526 total puts her at No. 4 all-time in Division I history. The Huskies will certainly feel her absence, especially early on in the season.
While it’s Connecticut’s first contest of the year, Fairfield opened their season last week against Holy Cross, a 13-10 home victory. The Stags employed a very balanced attack, with eight different players finding the back of the net. Leading Fairfield was Ellie Grefenstette, notching a hat trick and two assists. While the Huskies shouldn’t count out any scorer on this team, Grefenstette in particular will look to build on her strong performance.
Historically, UConn has done quite well against Fairfield, winning their last two matchups and nine of their last 10. Last season, the Huskies narrowly won in their season opener, a 12-10 road victory.
Back in October, the team announced their captains for the 2023 season: White, defender Julia Ozimek and midfielder Maddy George. All three are senior-level or higher and each have had their fair share of starts in this lineup. Their on-field leadership will be put to the test for the first time on Wednesday.
Gametime is set for 2 p.m. at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Connecticut. The contest will be broadcast live on FloSports with stats provided by StatBroadcast.