Field hockey faces tough weekend
Published: Friday, September 27, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 27, 2013 00:09
The UConn field hockey team will look to defend its undefeated record this weekend in two home games, the first coming on Saturday against Big East opponent Villanova, and the second on Sunday against reigning national champion Princeton.
The Huskies (7-0) were recently ranked No. 1 in the nation in the first edition of the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) poll released on Sept. 24.
“I think the rankings are nice for the players’ friends and families. It certainly helps with recruiting,” head coach Nancy Stevens said.
“Other than those two aspects, any rankings are meaningless. Whenever a team steps on the field to compete, it must prove itself on that particular day. How we match up with a team is the most important thing as we game plan for the upcoming games.”
UConn will certainly have to prove itself this weekend in what is one of the tougher two game stretches of the year.
Princeton, despite a 4-2 record with losses to two ranked opponents, opened their season with a convincing 3-1 win over then-No. 10 Duke, and Tigers’ star midfielder and Olympian Julia Reinprecht will demand the Huskies’ attention. Princeton defeated UConn 4-1 in their last meeting on Oct. 21, 2012.
“Princeton has three U.S. National team members. Julia Reinprecht competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games,” Stevens said. “Teams always remember their last game against an opponent and that provides additional incentive. We’ve had good success against Princeton at home, so that will be an advantage.”
The Huskies also cannot afford to overlook Villanova (2-5), a Big East foe that put up a strong fight against UConn in their last meeting before losing 1-0 on Sept. 23, 2012.
“It will be important to focus on the Villanova game and not look beyond this important Big East matchup,” Stevens said. “Our score with Villanova last season was 1-0, so we expect another good game.”
Regardless of opponent, UConn has been able to count on its defense for strong performances week in and week out. On Sept. 23, Huskies’ midfielder Roisin Upton became the second UConn player in four weeks to be honored as Big East Defensive Player of the Week, and the team is ranked fourth in the nation with a 0.82 goals against average.
“Roisin has been terrific all season,” Stevens said. “She is a key defender that contributes to the attacking play. Roisin makes players around her better. She and [junior midfielder] Chrissy Davidson work really well together.”
UConn will square off against Villanova at noon on Saturday and against Princeton at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Both games will be played at the George J. Sherman Family Sports Complex.