Coming off of back-to-back shutout losses and a five-game losing streak with an offense that repeatedly stalls out, it would have been nice for the UConn field hockey team to close their season with a win. Not only was UConn’s Friday afternoon showdown against Old Dominion their final match of the regular season, but it was also Senior Day, honoring Madison DiPietro, Erin Daly, Morgan Kaufmann, Aiyi Young, Julianna Kratz, Belle Bressler and McKenna Sergi.
Connecticut wasted no time getting to work. Five minutes in, a perfect pass that missed the defender set up a fast break opportunity. However, Julia Bressler’s scoring opportunity was incredibly difficult. Old Dominion goalkeeper Suus Broers quickly closed the distance as two defenders were on Bressler’s heels. The midfielder had no other option but to put up an off-balanced shot, which ended up narrowly sinking in on the left side of the cage, giving Connecticut the 1-0 advantage.
The Huskies were far from done. Less than five minutes later, they had another prime scoring opportunity. The Huskies got the ball inside the circle and attempted to score. Despite their efforts, Broers made the save. While Broers demonstrated excellent goalkeeping, she could only do so much when the rebound was kicked out perfectly for UConn’s Sol Simone. Simone crossed it to her teammate Kratz, who smashed in the easy goal.
Old Dominion was far from done, though, as Marlon de Bruijne found Frederique Zandbergen in front of the goal after a penalty corner. Zandbergen slotted it past UConn goalie Natalie McKenna, closing the first quarter with a score of 2-1. The rest of the half was slow as both teams combined for one shot in the second quarter.
UConn’s success this season has been their high-level defense, which was especially on display during the third quarter. The Monarchs dominated the offensive pace in the third with six shots. However, UConn’s ability to force tough attempts and McKenna’s goalkeeping kept the Huskies in the driver’s seat.
It was UConn’s offense in the second half that let them down. Since they failed to generate significant pressure on offense, their defense was called upon to make big plays. Those big plays never arrived. The Monarchs’ offensive pressure proved too much for the Huskies when de Bruijne leveled the contest with less than two minutes to go, sending the game into overtime.
Coming into Friday’s game, the Huskies had not fared well in previous overtime matchups and held a 1-2 record. It took less than five minutes for Rina Tsioles to score the winning goal for the Monarchs. From the second half to the final whistle, the UConn women failed to get a single shot off, putting immense pressure on their defense that caused them to falter and give up a score.
Friday afternoon’s loss brought the Huskies season record to 5-13. Old Dominion finished the season 12-5, but they will get a chance to continue fighting in the Big East tournament.
This season was a disappointment for Connecticut. At the beginning, UConn had high hopes of winning a Big East championship. They were ranked as high as No. 15 in the nation. This campaign follows UConn’s 11-7 record from last season, so this poor performance was unexpected, leaving fans with many questions heading into next season. How will UConn’s offense improve? This is the biggest question of all, as many of their losses were by a singler goal because their offense couldn’t even generate a shot.
It will be interesting to see how head coach Paul Caddy and the rest of the coaching staff readjust this offseason. UConn did have a demanding schedule this year, but their significant regression from last year is an area of concern. Connecticut has the potential to succeed, as they belong on the same field as the teams they played; they just need to put the pieces together.