COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Connecticut’s field hockey team wasn’t a big-time scoring machine in the NCAA Division I tournament. That’s OK, because they can play defense.
The Huskies (20-3) won their second straight national championship Sunday with a 1-0 win over Syracuse. UConn scored on its first shot of the game and only put two shots on net. But it was enough. Goalie Nina Klein made four saves for the Huskies, who captured their fourth NCAA title.
The Huskies finished the season with 14 consecutive victories, including a 1-0 decision over Albany in the semifinals on Friday.
“We pitched two no-hitters and against such stout defenses like Syracuse and Albany you’re not going to score that many goals,” UConn coach Nancy Stevens said. “We are thrilled beyond measure.”
UConn scored on its first shot of the game, taking advantage of its first penalty corner. Charlotte Veitner passed the ball out to Chrissy Davidson, who stopped the ball and fed it to Anna Middendorf. She blasted a shot toward the goalie and allowed teammate McKenzie Townsend the chance to redirect the ball into the upper right of the net. It was Townsend’s fourth goal of the season.
“It was such a team effort,” said Townsend on the goal. “You have the person who gets the corner. The push-out has to be perfect, the stop has to be perfect and the strike in has to be in to the right spot. I’m just the lucky one who gets to have the last touch on it.”
The Huskies had a chance to extend their lead in the final two minutes of the first half when Davidson slapped a shot on goal that popped straight up into the air and was knocked away by the Orange keeper. The Huskies earned a corner with 13 minutes left but Middendorf’s blast was blocked away by the defense.
Syracuse had an excellent look with three minutes remaining in the game but Emma Russell’s shot skipped just wide right of the cage. UConn beat Duke last year to win the national title, 2-0. Roisin Upton, Middendorf, Davidson and Klein were named to the All-Tournament team.
UConn 1, Syracuse 0
At College Park, Md.
UConn (20-3) 1 0 — 1
Syracuse (18-6) 0 0 — 0
Goal: McKenzie Townsend (C); Assist: Anna Middendorf (C); Saves: Nina Klein (C) 4, Jess Jesko (S) 2; Shots: Syracuse, 7-4; Penalty corners: 2-2; Att. – 1,590