No. 2 field hockey plays two games
Published: Friday, October 4, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 4, 2013 00:10
The No. 2 UConn field hockey team (9-0) will play two games this weekend, first on the road against Big East rival Providence and then at home against No. 9 Boston College.
“Our team understands that there are no ordinary games,” head coach Nancy Stevens said.
“Each opponent presents different challenges and we’ve been able to meet those challenges through diligent preparation and hard work. Often times the game is won or lost before the starting whistle blow,” Stevens said. “The key to winning is preparation and respect for each opponent.”
The Huskies head into the weekend – which marks the unofficial halfway point of the season – undefeated through their first nine games, the third time in the last five seasons the team has reached that milestone, having done so in 2009 and 2012.
UConn moved up one place in the most recent National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) poll released on Oct. 1, moving from No. 3 to No. 2. The University of Maryland took the ranking’s top spot with 41 first place votes.
UConn opens its two-game slate with Providence (4-5), a team the Huskies defeated 4-2 last season on Sept. 28. The Friars, who defeated No. 10 Northwestern 2-1 in overtime on Aug. 30, are UConn’s third Big East opponent of the season.
“Providence always plays us close,” Stevens said. “They are well-coached and highly motivated. We’ve been impressed with their defensive performance against strong opponents.”
Bookending Saturday’s contest is another on Sunday against No. 9 Boston College (8-2), a stout Atlantic Coast Conference foe in the midst of a strong season of its own.
UConn last faced the Eagles on the road last season on Oct. 18, defeating Boston College 5-1 in a game Stevens called “atypical.”
“Our games with Boston College have always been hard fought,” Stevens said. “BC has added several talented players. They compete in the nation’s top field hockey conference, the ACC, and they have excellent team speed and can finish. They put six (goals) on Syracuse, one of the top teams in the country.”
Despite changing strategies on a week to week basis, the Huskies’ defense has been its bedrock as well as the driving force behind the team’s 9-0 start. Goalkeeper and first team All-American Sarah Mansfield has continued her pattern of leadership and excellence, and as a team UConn has found ways to consistently keep opponents off of the stat sheet.
“Sarah Mansfield leads our defense and has played superbly so far this season,” Stevens said. “She instills confidence in her young defense and does a terrific job directing them throughout the game.”
“Our team defense begins 75 yards from our own goal, as the forwards press. It is similar to a full-court press in basketball. We play team defense. When everyone works hard, good things happen.”
The Huskies will take the field at 2 p.m. Sunday against Boston College at the George J. Sherman Family Sports Complex.