Field Hockey: Wildcats go on road, knock off No. 3 Connecticut



Allison Venella

In its only game of the week, the field hockey team started off its Big East Conference play in style by beating the No. 3 team in the nation, University of Connecticut, by a score of 3-2.

The rivalry between Villanova and UConn on the turf is one that goes back years, and the Villanova seniors religiously talk about to freshmen. Seniors Stephanie Campbell, Catherine Somits, Jenny Nelson and Megan Ryan talked this week about what it’s like to play in Big East games.

“We told them all the stories we went through our four years hearing – about the first time VUFH beat UConn and how we’ve rivaled ever since, about how we refuse to be beaten on our own turf, how it simply comes down to pride and leaving everything on the field,” Campbell said. “We work hard and take pride in the fact that our team never gives up.”

And not giving up is exactly what the team did when it beat UConn this past Sunday. This upset is one the team will be talking about for a long time.

In practice this past week, the team worked hard to prepare for the challenge of beating the nationally ranked Huskies.

“We focused on our offensive pressure inside the 25, putting shots on cage and pressuring the defense,” Campbell said, commenting on the week of practice. “We also worked on moving the ball quickly around our backfield, closing in on the other teams’ free hits and quick transitioning.”

The game, played at UConn, started off with freshmen forward Meg Ryan showcasing her ability to make things happen on the offensive end. At about the halfway mark of the first half, she scored, giving Villanova a 1-0 lead. However, just as the second half started, the Huskies scored back-to-back shots to capture the lead.

The Villanova defense answered back as it rallied around a stellar performance by red-shirt freshman goalkeeper Maura McCormick, who blocked numerous and consistent shots to keep the hope alive. Villanova’s offense was given a golden opportunity to score in the form of a penalty shot in order to tie the game and gain some momentum. Junior forward/midfielder Sam Coveleski drilled the shot into the back of the net to tie the game at 2-2.

With the score tied and a Big East win on the line, both teams worked hard to produce shots on goal. In a moment that will be remembered for a long time in Villanova field hockey history, sophomore forward Jenn Nazarethian blasted a penalty shot directly to Campbell, who drilled the ball past the goalkeeper and into the net.

“There’s a different attitude when it comes to conference games,” Campbell said. “There’s history between our team and a tough rival like UConn – it’s about pride. We know we have the skills; it is a matter of bringing the intangibles.”

For Head Coach Joanie Milhous, this is the first time in her 12 years on the Main Line to ever beat such a highly ranked team. The Wildcats now sit at 1-0 in Big East play, 4-2 for the season, and look forward to their next challenge on Friday night when they take on Rutgers.