STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut field hockey team officially began its national title defense on Thursday when the team met for the beginning of the 2014 preseason. The Huskies are set to begin practice sessions on Friday, leading up to the first game of the season against Northwestern on Aug. 31 at noon.
The 2014 squad returns 16 letterwinners from last season's national championship team and also welcomes five new Huskies to the mix.
Head coach Nancy Stevens, who was tabbed as the NFHCA National Coach of the Year in 2013, returns to the helm for her 25th year and will look to lead the Huskies to their 13th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Since Steven's arrival in 1990, Connecticut has amassed a stellar 395-126-8 mark and has claimed 13 of the last 17 regular season Big East Titles. The 2013 season also marked UConn's fourth NCAA National Semifinal berth in the last eight seasons and the program's sixth overall under Stevens.
The UConn offense, which finished 11th in the country with a 3.09 scoring average, will be anchored by Chloe Hunnable and Roisin Upton. Hunnable, a 2013 Third Team All-American, enters her senior campaign with the seventh-most points in UConn history (125), while Upton returns for her junior season after tallying 40 points during a breakout sophomore year.
With the departure of former standout Sarah Mansfield, redshirt-freshman goalkeeper Nina Klein is set to take over duties in the cage. Klein was a four-year starter at Brandywine Heights High School and was tabbed as a Pennsylvania Field Hockey Coaches Association First Team All-State selection in 2011 and 2012.
The Huskies will take on a challenging schedule, highlighted by five games against teams that finished 2013 ranked in the RPI top-10. Eight of UConn's 17 regular season opponents qualified for the 2013 NCAA Tournament and three advanced to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals.
To keep up with the team during the preseason, please visit UConnHuskies.com or follow the squad on twitter at @UConnFHockey.