NORFOLK, Va. – Overtime is what led the UConn field hockey team to a season-defining 3-2 win over Syracuse in the NCAA quarterfinals last weekend; in the NCAA semifinals on Friday, however, it was in overtime that the Huskies fell short.
No. 6 UConn (22-2) dropped a heartbreaking 2-1 overtime game to No. 4 North Carolina at the L.R. Hill Sports Complex on the Old Dominion campus, halting its attempt to reach the program’s seventh-ever NCAA championship game.
After another grueling game – this time in warm Virginia temperatures as opposed to the bitter cold of Syracuse, North Carolina’s Lauren Moyer scored in the 81st minute to take the game for the Tar Heels.
Though UConn was denied a chance to recreate the magic it experienced just three years ago in Norfolk when the program won its third-ever national title in 2013, the Huskies left it all on the field against the Heels.
In the biggest game of her young college career, freshman Barbara van den Hoogen scored in the 36th minute to break a scoreless tie out of halftime. She fired a rocket from the top of the circle to give UConn a 1-0 lead.
The Huskies and Tar Heels combined for nine penalty corners throughout the game, as both teams traded offensive attacks up and down the field.
Both defenses were extremely stingy, resulting in just 15 combined shots in the game – which ran nearly an hour-and-a-half on the field.
North Carolina tied the game in the 42nd minute, when a breakaway resulted in a score by Sam Night to tie the game and give her team the momentum. Though each team had chances down the stretch, regulation ended with a 1-1 tie.
UConn entered overtime with a 2-0 record this season in such games, holding a 4-3 win over Boston College on Oct. 30 and the classic 3-2 double-overtime win at Syracuse just five days ago.
However, it was Malin Evert who brought the ball up the field and found space in the circle, who crossed to Moyer for the game-winner.
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Nina Klein was masterful in goal for the Huskies, recording five saves on the day. It was only when she was outnumbered on the final play that the Heels took advantage and eliminated UConn from title contention.
Senior Darby Smith and freshman Antonia Tiedtke gave the Huskies good minutes off the bench, while UConn’s stellar backline of senior Olivia Bolles, senior Anna Middendorf and junior Casey Umstead were brilliant once again.
The Huskies’ defense did not allow more than three goals in a game all season and that occurred just once in a 5-3 win at Georgetown.
A season that started 16-0, and eventually resulted in both a Big East regular season title and a Big East Tournament crown, came to an end for the Huskies. North Carolina advances to play the winner of Delaware-Princeton for the NCAA title on Sunday.