PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – For the second time in as many games, sophomore Anna Middendorf (Bremen, Germany) tallied a pair of goals, as the No. 5 University of Connecticut field hockey team defeated Villanova, 4-0, on Friday night to secure at least a share of the 2014 Big East regular season title. The Huskies improve to 12-2 overall and sport a 4-0 league mark. Villanova drops to 4-11 (1-3, Big East) in 2014.
The Huskies have now won back-to-back Big East regular season titles, after earning a share of the 2013 crown a year ago. In total, UConn has earned 14 regular season championships since 1996 under head coach Nancy Stevens. The victory puts the Huskies in the driver's seat for the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big East Conference Championship to be held in Providence, R.I. from Nov. 7-9.
Connecticut can win the conference title outright with a victory over Temple next Friday. UConn will enter the match-up having won 20 of its last 22 Big East contests.
"We are playing our best field hockey of the season right now and this is the best time of the season to be doing just that," Stevens said. "Your season is defined by championships won and this step is just the first step in what we hope to accomplish going forward. Our upcoming games will be terrific preparation for the Big East Tournament in two weeks, where the prize of an NCAA automatic bid will be earned by the conference champion. We are working hard every day to be that team."
For the second consecutive game, UConn got off to a hot start. With less than two minutes gone by, the Huskies earned their first penalty corner attempt of the game. Freshman Charlotte Veitner (Dusseldorf, Germany) inserted the ball to senior captain Chrissy Davidson (West Lawn, Pa.), who executed the stick stop and allowed Middendorf the opportunity to blast a shot past the Wildcat back line and into net.
The Huskies doubled up their lead with 12 minutes remaining in the first half when Roisin Upton (Limerick, Ireland) converted a stroke attempt.
The Huskies came out attacking on the offensive end in the second half. With 20 minutes remaining in regulation, the Huskies earned four-straight penalty corners. The Wildcat defense was able to turn away three shots from Upton but Connecticut cashed in at the 57:20 mark when Middendorf drove down the middle of the circle and threaded a shot past the goalkeeper and into the net for her second score of the game. Senior forward Chloe Hunnable (Halstead, England) was credited with the assist on the play.
Middendorf’s nine scores are a team-high and the versatile sophomore also sports a team-leading .243 shot percentage.
UConn added its final score just over five minutes later when the Hunnable sent up a long pass through the middle that found Veitner near of the top of the circle. The freshman juked and finished her shot into the cage, marking her eight tally of the year.
Connecticut dominated the scoring opportunities, out-shooting their conference foes, 24-to-4, including a 10-to-1 first half edge. The Huskies, who entered the contest fifth in the nation with more than eight penalty corner attempts per game, earned 14 in 70 minutes.
Redshirt-freshman Nina Klein recorded her seventh clean sheet of the year, making one save in the victory. The keeper has now allowed one goal or less in 10 of 14 starts this season. Her counterpart, Jordyn Clipstone surrendered all four Husky goals.
The Huskies round out regular season non-conference action when they challenge Princeton on Sunday, Oct. 26 at 1 p.m.