Sept. 12, 2012
STORRS, Conn. – Former UConn field hockey standouts Melissa Gonzalez and Rayell Heistand both were selected to the United States National Team which will compete at the Electric Ireland Women’s Champions Challenge tournament in Dublin, Ireland from September 29- October 7.
The eight-team tournament is the first major International Hockey Federation event following the Olympic Games and features four teams that participated in London with South Africa, USA, Belgium and Australia.
Gonzalez, a two-time BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year, has already been a member of Team USA and competed with the squad in the 2012 London Olympics. Gonzalez scored 27 goals and had 14 assists for 68 points during her career at UConn and led the Huskies to four NCAA Tournaments and advanced to the 2007 National Semifinals and the 2010 Quarterfinal. Connecticut took home the championship hardware from two BIG EAST Tournaments and won the 2007 and 2008 BIG EAST Regular Season Championship. The 2010 Mideast Region Player of the Year, Gonzalez is one of only five Huskies to hear All-Mideast Region status four times.
Heistand, a 2012 graduate of UConn, will make her National Team debut in Ireland after being a member of the US Development Squad since July. Heistand was honored as a Second Team All-America for the second-straight time in 2011. Heistand was an All-BIG EAST First Team selection in each of the last two seasons and was the 2011 Preseason BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year. Heistand was a three-time All-Mideast Region selection.
The U.S. will face Scotland, South Africa and Ireland in the preliminary rounds. All eight teams will advance to a quarterfinal match on October 4, with the first place finishers taking on the last place finishers from the other groups and the second and third place teams playing in a similar cross-over. From there, the winners will move into the semi-finals and medal rounds, while the losers will play for placement.
The winner of the Electric Ireland Champion’s Challenge 1 will automatically qualify for the next Women’s Champions Trophy, which features the world’s top ranked teams.