Sept. 23, 2011
By Bobby Duley
Expectations are high for the UConn Field Hockey team this year and an experienced group of senior leaders is ready to guide the team to the BIG EAST Tournament and beyond.
Currently ranked No. 4 in the country, the 6-1 Huskies are led by senior captains Ali Blankmeyer, Kim Krzyk and Jestine Angelini. All three have waited patiently and are now primed to embrace their leadership roles on and off the field.
Starting out as a freshman, "you come in nervous," said Blankmeyer. "You become more comfortable and there is a lot of team chemistry."
"It becomes natural," added Krzyk. "You become more comfortable directing on the field. Communication is a key aspect of the game and we encourage everyone to be outspoken."
With very few stoppages of play, Head Coach Nancy Stevens said it is critical that players direct the play on the field. That said, she looks to her seniors to lead the way and control the flow on the field.
"It's easier to be more outspoken," said Blankmeyer. "We know what to expect and we can hold everyone accountable."
"A lot of different people play roles and it extends from us," added Krzyk.
Having won BIG EAST regular season and tournament titles already, this group of seniors is ready to take the next step and advance in the NCAA tournament.
"Starting the season the goals are always the same," said Stevens. "Win the BIG EAST regular season and tournament titles, then make the NCAA tournament and advance." These seniors have made the NCAA tournament in all three of their years with the team. "Top 16, then Elite Eight, now take the next step. It's the progression they've been making," added Stevens.
Being ranked in the Top five, it is rare that the Huskies face an opponent ranked higher than them, but that doesn't mean they look past any opponent. "You attack the same way for every game," said Angelini.
"Our motto is `Respect All, Fear None,'" said Stevens. "We approach all with respect and we are every team's big game. You know they have us circled on their calenders and we're going to get everyone's best."
"The best day of the week is game day!" added Angelini, much to the approval of her coach.
UConn travels to Rhode Island tomorrow to take on Providence College before returning home next week to host UMass and Louisville. The Huskies have outscored opponents 23-7 this year and have tallied three shutouts in their impressive 6-1 start to the year.
Notable upcoming games for the Huskies include back-to-back home games against No. 17 Boston University and No. 5 Syracuse in October. The BIG EAST Tournament will be played in Syracuse in the beginning of November.