LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Back to the National Championship game! For the third time in five years the No. 1 University of Connecticut field hockey team will compete to raise the NCAA Division I Trophy and reclaim its stake as the top field hockey team in the country. The Huskies' will play for their fifth national championship on Sunday, November 17 at the University of Louisville. UConn, who bested North Carolina in a shootout to take a 2-1 victory, improved its record to 22-0 on the year. The Tar Heels conclude their season with a record of 18-5.
Goalkeeper Nina Klein put on a heroic performance on the contest, as the redshirt senior recorded a career-high 13 saves in the cage and recorded all 115:00 minutes between the pipes. Klein's performance in the shootout was perfect as the goalkeeper dismissed three Tar Heel shooters to seal the 3-0 win.
— UConn Field Hockey (@UConnFHockey) November 18, 2017
Both teams vied for possession in the first half but a strong defensive effort by both squads left it a 0-0 game at the half. The opening period saw just four combined shots and one penalty corner.
The Huskies gained an early lead in the second half. UConn took advantage of its first penalty corner just five minutes into the game to jump on the scoreboard. Off a corner, freshman Margot van Hecking Colenbrander sent a pass from the top of the circle to the right post where it connected with the stick of senior Charlotte Veitner and redirected past UNC's goalkeeper. Veitner found the back of the cage for the 32nd time this season for the 1-0 edge.
In the 44th minute the Tar Heels looked to capitalize on their best scoring opportunity of the game. Following an UConn foul in the circle, UNC and forward Eva van't Hoog were awarded a penalty stroke. UNC soon saw its chance to even the score thwarted by the stick of a leaping Klein who swatted the drag flick away.
In the following minutes, the Tar Heels continued to attack but could not find a solution to Klein who spoiled three-consecutive corner opportunities.
After a UNC goal was called back upon further review, the Tar Heels pressed their offense in the remaining 11 minutes. Desperate to even the score, UNC pulled their goalkeeper at 59:32 to add an extra attacker to its offense. The press would eventually crack Klein and the defense, as the visitors were able to draw the score in the 68th minute. At the end of regulation, a deadlock 1-1 scoreboard sent the contest to overtime.
The Tar Heels carried the moment into the first two overtime periods and outshot the Huskies 3-0 while earning a 4-0 advantage in penalty corners. UNC threated to end the game with shot in the remaining minute but a stretched out Klein sent the tilt into a shootout.
Veitner stepped up first and found the back of the net with ease to put UConn up 1-0. The Tar Heels would try to knot the score but a sliding Klein would knock the ball wide for the save. Senior Casey Umstead soon made it a 2-0 lead for the Huskies, with her shot skirting just out of reach of goalkeeper Amanda Hendry's stick. Junior Amanda Collins would step up to take the third and final shootout opportunity for UConn after sending the ball high over the pads off a sliding Hendry. Klein turned in a perfect 3-0 sheet after denying the second and third Tar Heel players.
The Huskies will face the winner of No. 3 Michigan and Maryland on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. in the hopes of winning their fifth national title.
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