LOUISVILLE, Ky. – National Champions! The No. 1 University of Connecticut field hockey team won its third national title in five years, defeating Maryland, 2-1, in the 2017 NCAA National Championship game on Sunday afternoon at Trager Stadium in Louisville, Ky. The Huskies conclude their historic campaign as the only Connecticut field hockey team to go undefeated
with a 23-0 record, and just the sixth team in the history of the sport to boast the accomplishment. The Terps round out the season at 16-7.
"I felt that our team had the confidence and calm demeanor to get the job done," said Head Coach Nancy Stevens." Certainly, a huge credit to the University of Maryland."We were able to finish and win our third national championship in five years. That puts us in pretty elite company and we’re the first UConn field hockey team to go undefeated with a perfect record and that’s very hard to do. I think there are six teams throughout NCAA history in field hockey that had perfect seasons. And now we’ve become number seven. So, as I told the team, you now walk through history together. It’s just a great day to be a UConn Husky.”
The 2017 crown marks UConn's fifth title (1981, 1985, 2013, 2014, 2017) and third under head coach Nancy Stevens. The Huskies cap their incredible season with the fifth national championship in program hisotry. Overall, Connecticut owns a 38-24 (.627) mark in the national tournament and has won 31 of 43 tournament games since Stevens arrived to the Storrs campus prior to the 1990 season.
The 2017 national championship in field hockey is the 22nd NCAA title in UConn history and the 23th overall national championship. The other NCAA Championships are in: field hockey (1981, 1985, 2013, 2014), men's basketball (1999, 2004, 2011, 2014), women's basketball (1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) and men's soccer (1981, 2000). The 1948 UConn men's soccer team was named the national champions by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America before there was an NCAA tournament in men's soccer.
Senior Charlotte Veitner was named the NCAA Division I Tournament Most Valuable Player after a two-goal performance in the game and a six-point performance (3g) throughout the weekend. Teammates Margot van Hecking Colenbrander, Casey Umstead, Karlie Heistand and Nina Klein received All-Tournament Team honors as well.
UConn scored on its first shot of the game. Following a Maryland turnover, senior Casey Umstead sent a long pass up field to classmate Charlotte Veitner just outside the circle. UConn’s all-time leading goal scorer dribbled the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the circle before blasting a shot into the left hand corner of the cage. The tally marked her 33rd of the season.
The Terps tested Klein twice in the first half but could not break the redshirt-senior. The shots were even at three apiece for the two squads but it was the Huskies who carried a 1-0 edge after 35 minutes of play.
Maryland found its way onto the scoreboard in the 42nd minute. After the Huskies spoiled the Terps attack corner, Kyle Greenwalt knotted the score 1-1 with a drag flick into the ride side of the cage.
With just nine minutes to play, Veitner scored the most memorable goal of her career. In the 62nd minute the senior collected a loose ball in the circle, turned around and put home the game-winning tally.
As the final minutes ran down, the Huskies defense held strong until the final buzzer, wrapping up a season for the ages, the history book will read UConn Huskies, 23-0, National Champions!
"When we started the season, I put a quote on the board, and it was, 'you are enough.' We really felt that coming into this season that this team had all of the components to win a national championship and we really thought we had a chance to go undefeated with the talent and the leadership that we had. And sometimes the message is that you’re not enough, and you need to – we’re always pushing them to be better but I think it’s important as a leader of women to help them understand that they are enough. So, we ended our season with that message on the board today, " explained Stevens.
The 2017 senior class will go down in history as the most successful class to ever come through the UConn field hockey program. The class of Charlotte Veitner, Maureen Schott, Karlie Heistand, Casey Umstead and Nina Klein conclude their careers with an 87-6 record. Additionally, the class completed its bookend career with two national championships- as freshman in 2014 and seniors in 2017.
Highlights from the 2017 Season:
Fri. Aug 25: No. 4 UConn beats No. 12 Stanford, 2-0, for the first win of the season.
Sun. Sept. 24: No. 1 UConn takes down defending National Champions Delaware, 1-0, in OT.
Fri. Oct. 6: No. 1 UConn defeats Villanova 12-0 to set a new program record in goals scored. Charlotte Veitner becomes UConn's all-time scoring leader, while Nina Klein sets a program record with her 76th career win.
Sat. Oct 21: No. 1 UConn defeats Georgetown, 10-0, to win its 17th BIG EAST Regular Season title.
Sat. Oct 28: No. 1 UConn finishes the regular season 17-0 after beating No. 11 Boston College, 3-0.
Sun. Nov. 5: No. 1 UConn tops Liberty, 3-0, to claim its sixth-consecutive BIG EAST Tournament Championship.
Sun. Nov. 12: No. 1 UConn heads to its fifth-straight Final Four after beating No. 5 Penn State, 4-3.
Fri. Nov. 17: No. 1 UConn tips No. 4 UNC, 2-1, in a shootout to advance to the national title game.
Sun. Nov 19: No. 1 UConn wins its fifth National Championship, defeating Maryland, 2-1!!