PROVIDENCE, R.I. - For the third time in three years, the University of Connecticut field hockey team claimed the Big East Tournament title, downing Temple, 4-1, on Sunday in the league's 2014 championship game hosted at Lennon Family Field in Providence.
The Huskies (16-2) have earned a berth into the 2014 NCAA Tournament via the league's automatic bid and will await seeding, pairing and location. The NCAA Selection Show is set for Sunday, Nov. 9 at 10 p.m. Connecticut has earned 13-straight NCAA Tournament trips and has qualified for the event in 18 of the last 19 seasons.
UConn has won each of the last three conference tournament crowns, including 10 since the 2000 season. In total, the Huskies have earned 14 of the last 26 conference tournament trophies under head coach Nancy Stevens. It marks the third different occasion that Stevens has guided the Huskies to at least three-straight league tournament crowns (1998-2000, 2004-07).
2014 Big East Defensive Player of the Year Roisin Upton (Limerick, Ireland) was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player and was joined on the All-Tournament team by Charlotte Veitner (Dusseldorf, Germany), Chloe Hunnable (Halstead, England), Anna Middendorf (Bremen, Germany) and Chrissy Davidson (West Lawn, Pa.)
Connecticut opened up the scoring at the 16:11 mark, capitalizing on the team's second corner of the game. Veitner inserted the ball to Davidson, who executed the stick stop and gave Middendorf a chance to blast a shot-on-goal, which was tipped into by freshman Casey Umstead (Sellersville, Pa.).
Nearly 11 minutes later, the Huskies pulled ahead 2-0 after Hunnable deposited her eighth tally of the year into the net after receiving an excellent feed from Veitner.
The Huskies took a commanding 3-0 lead in the waning minutes of the opening frame when Mckenzie Townsend deflected in a pass from Middendorf on Connecticut's third corner of the afternoon.
Temple grabbed a goal early in the second half but couldn't pull closer than two.
Darby Smith put an exclamation point on the victory in the second halfwhen she notched her second score of the year, receiving a pass from Hunnable on the fast-break and chipping a shot into the empty cage.
Redshirt-freshman Nina Klein (Topton, Pa.) came up with a huge play in the fifth minute, making a diving save to stop a stroke attempt by Temple's Amber Youtz. Later in the first half, Klein again came away with a stop on the Owls' second stroke of the game. She finished the afternoon with a pair of saves and earned her 16th-win of the year.
Middendorf had the Huskies' first offensive chance of the game, ripping a shot from the top of the circle that was turned away on UConn's first penalty corner attempt of the game.
Hunnable nearly doubled the UConn lead in the late stages of the first half, taking a long pass from Veitner up the middle and into the circle. The senior forward cut left and let a backhanded shot loose that slid just wide of the far post.