NORFOLK, Va. – For the fourth time in as many years, the University of Connecticut field hockey team claimed the Big East Tournament title after downing Temple, 7-3, on Sunday in the conference’s 2015 championship game at the L.R. Sports Complex in Norfolk, Va.
With the victory, the Huskies (20-0) have earned a berth into the 2015 NCAA Tournament via the league’s automatic bid and will await seeding, pairing and location. The NCAA Selection Show is set for Sunday, Nov. 8 at 10 p.m. Connecticut has tallied 14 consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament and qualified for the event in 19 of the last 20 seasons.
UConn has won the last four conference tournament crowns, including 11 since the 2000 season. As a team, UConn has lifted 15 of the last 27 conference tournament trophies under head coach Nancy Stevens. This is the third time Stevens has led the Huskies to at least three-straight tournament titles (1998-2000, 2004-07, 2012-15).
2015 Big East Offensive Player of the Year sophomore Charlotte Veitner (Dusseldorf, Germany) was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Defensive Player of the Year senior Roisin Upton (Limerick, Ireland), junior Anna Middendorf (Bremen, Germany), sophomore Casey Umstead (Sellersville, Pa.) and graduate student Pippa Lewis (Malvern, England).
UConn opened up the scoring after 5:17 of play. Upton passed the ball across the middle of the circle to Umstead, who spun around a defender and delivered a strong backhand to put the Huskies on the board.
Just 43 seconds later, Umstead crossed the ball in front of the goal to Lewis on the left side. Lewis shifted to the right before clipping the ball in past Temple’s goalkeeper Haley Mitchell.
Lewis followed up with another goal at the 7:59 mark, popping a shot into the left top corner of the net off Upton’s perfect dish.
The Huskies took a commanding 4-0 lead when Veitner’s shot drew Temple’s net-minder to the left side of the cage. Sophomore Karlie Heistand (Hamburg, Pa.) caught the deflection off the goalie’s pads and lifted the ball in for her second tally of the season.
Freshman Amanda Collins (Binghamton, N.Y.) sliced the ball up to the 25-yard line to a sprinting Veitner. The German native was alone in the crease with two defenders and managed to draw Mitchell out of the net before notching the breakaway goal.
Temple’s Sarah Deck converted the penalty corner attempt to get the Owls in the game. Teammate Alyssa Delp just slipped the ball past UConn’s redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Nina Klein (Topton, Pa.) on the penalty stroke to cut UConn’s lead to 5-2.
A little over three minutes into the second half, Veitner set up the eighth penalty corner attempt for the Huskies. She got the ball into Lewis at the top of the circle and Upton stepped up to fire off a quick release for her only goal of the game.
A collision in the circle gave the Owls its second stroke attempt, which Delp was able to convert but the Huskies were still ahead, 6-3.
With less than seven minutes to go, Middendorf’s shot found its way into the back of the net off the corner but was waived off by officials for being too high over the boards.
The Huskies didn’t let that get them down as Veitner tallied the final goal for Connecticut with 1:46 left in regulation on a slap from the right hand side.
Veitner had a total of four goals and three assists for 11 points on the weekend, which tied the tournament’s individual points record held by UConn’s Wendy Brady ’96.
UConn outshot Temple, 21-to-9 and earned 10 penalty corners compared to a pair for the Owls.