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Fall Sports Take to the Field for Postseason Action

Three of the University of Connecticut’s fall sports are taking to the game field for 2002 BIG EAST postseason play this weekend.  While the women’s soccer team defeated Georgetown (Nov. 2) to advance to its semifinal game on Friday, the field hockey team opens its postseason play in a semifinal contest in Syracuse, NY (Nov. 8) and the men’s soccer team will play host to Rutgers for a quarterfinal match-up in Storrs on Saturday.

This weekend will be the UConn women’s soccer teams tenth straight appearance in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals, as they will face Villanova, the No. 2 seed in the BIG EAST Mid-Atlantic Division on Friday, November 8 at 5:00 at Morrone Stadium in Storrs.  Sophomore Zahra Jalalian scored the game-winner in the 1-0 win over Georgetown to send the Huskies to the semis to face the Villanova Wildcats.  Connecticut sports a 7-2-0 record in semifinal games, with the two losses coming against eventual champion St. John’s in 1994 and last year, when they fell to West Virginia, 1-0.  In nine semifinal games, Connecticut has outscored its opponents by a combined score of 20-5 and has pitched four shutouts.  The Huskies are coming off of five straight wins this season, and has tallied a perfect 6-0 record in conference play.  UConn has boasted five BIG EAST Player of the Week awards throughout the season. Kristen Graczyk and Brittany Barakat won Offensive, Sarah Popper took Defensive, Maria Yatrakis earned Goalie and Barakat also had a week as Rookie.

Villanova enters Friday’s semifinal game against UConn coming off of four straight wins, out-scoring their opponents, 20-1.  They will be making their first BIG EAST semifinal appearance since 1997.  The Wildcats’ 1-0 victory over Boston College marked the first win for VU in seven appearances in the BIG EAST Championship.  The Wildcats are currently ranked 14th in the Soccer America Poll and, though they didn’t make the top-25, they did receive votes this week in the NSCAA-adidas poll.  VU athletes were named Player of the Week six times during the season, including three-time Goalie of the Week Chrissy Dolan. 

The University of Connecticut field hockey teams opens postseason play this weekend as the top seed in the 2002 BIG EAST Championship held at Coyne Field in Syracuse, NY. UConn, the 2002 BIG EAST regular season champion with a perfect 5-0 record in conference play, is vying for its league-leading sixth tournament title and will face Syracuse at 5 p.m. in the first semifinal game on Friday, Nov. 8. The other semifinal game pits No. 2 Villanova versus No. 3 Boston College at 7 p.m. The 2002 BIG EAST Championship game will be played on Sunday, Nov. 10, at 12 noon. The winner will receive the leagues automatic bid into the 2002 NCAA Tournament. 

The Huskies enter postseason with a 13-7 overall record and are led in scoring by sophomore Lauren Henderson who boasts a league-leading 20 goals on the season. Her goals scored also rank her among the top six in the nation in total goals scored. Behind Henderson is senior Kelly Cochrane who has eight goals and a league-leading 18 assists for 34 points. Cochrane's career-high assists of 18 ranks her among the top three in the nation in total assists and assists per game.

UConn's defense is anchored by junior netminder Maureen Butler. She posts an impressive 1.41 goals against average on the season and has six shutouts for the Huskies. UConn sweeper sophomore Lauren Christie is a force in the back and the main reason why opponents are only averaging nine shots per game. Christie has chipped in with nine assists and two goals from her sweeper position.

The Huskies are looking to advance to their seventh NCAA Tournament under 13th year head coach Nancy Stevens.

The University of Connecticut men’s soccer team is making its 18th appearance, the most of any other team in the league, at the 2002 BIG EAST Tournament. The Huskies, seeded No. 3, will face No. 6 seed Rutgers University in a quarterfinal game on Saturday, November 9 at 1:00 pm at Morrone Stadium in Storrs. No. 6 nationally ranked UConn holds a record of 13-4 overall, and completed the 2002 BIG EAST schedule with a 7-3 record.  The Huskies are 17-12-1 in championship play, accumulating four first place and four second place finishes. Connecticut is 11-6 in quarterfinal play.

Senior Damani Ralph leads the Huskies in scoring with 14 goals and 4 four assists for 32 points. He leads the BIG EAST in shots, shots per game, points, points per game, goals, goals per game and game-winning goals. Ralph was recently named to the prestigious M.A.C. Hermann Player of the Year ballot for his strong play this season.  Cesar Cuellar has made a late run notching 13 goals and three assists for 29 points, including two hat tricks this season. Rookie keeper Adam Schuerman holds a 0.83 goals against average, good for second in the league, playing and starting in all 17 UConn games.