NEW YORK - Coming off its third national championship in 2013, the University of Connecticut field hockey team has been unanimously selected to finish first in the Big East in a vote of the league's coaches. In addition, Roisin Upton (Limerick, Ireland) was tabbed as the conference's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
The Huskies totaled 25 points in the poll, edging out Old Dominion (21) for the top spot. UConn collected all five eligible first-place votes from the league's head coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own players or teams. Connecticut will be searching for its 14th conference regular season title this season, after taking home the regular season crown in each of the last two years and 13 times since the 1996 season.
Upton enjoyed a breakout sophomore season on the pitch in 2013, grabbing a Second Team All-America nod. In addition to providing a solid presence in the defensive effort, Upton exploded for 40 points to finish second on the team in scoring en route to a 2013 All- Big East First Team selection. Upton paced the Husky squad with 16 assists, including two assists in the NCAA Tournament to earn a place on the All-Tournament team.
Hunnable enters the 2014 campaign with a chance to etch her name into the Connecticut record books after tallying 125 points through her first three seasons, while Davidson tied for third on the team with 12 assists and was tabbed as a NFHCA Mideast Regional Second Team Member during UConn's national championship season.
UConn will tune-up for the regular season on Saturday, Aug. 23 when it welcomes the Rye Field Hockey Club to the Sherman Family-Sports Complex for an exhibition game. Action is set to begin at 1 p.m. and is free-of-charge.
The Huskies open up regular season play the following weekend when they host Northwestern on Aug. 31 at 12 p.m.
BIG EAST Field Hockey Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Connecticut* - 25 points (five first-place votes) 2. Old Dominion - 21 (one first-place vote) 3. Temple - 16 4. Providence - 14 5. Villanova - 9 6. Georgetown - 5
Preseason All-BIG EAST Team: Daniella Bernasconi, Sr., F, Providence Lizzy Millen, Sr., GK, Temple* Henni Tietze, Sr., B, Providence * Roisin Upton, Jr., M, Connecticut* Maddy Harding, Sr., B, Villanova Chrissy Davidson, Sr., M, Connecticut * Kelsey Smither, Sr., M/B, Old Dominion* Caitlin Malone, GS, M, Providence* Chloe Hunnable, Sr., F, Connecticut* Rosario Villagra, Sr., F/M, Old Dominion* Amber Youtz, Sr., F, Temple*
BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Rosario Villagra, Sr., F/M, Old Dominion
BIG EAST Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Roisin Upton, Jr., M, Connecticut*