STORRS, Conn. – Seniors Charlotte Veitner and Casey Umstead of the No. 1 UConn field hockey team were tabbed the BIG EAST Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively, as announced by the league on Thursday. The duo headlined a group of six total UConn players that earned all-conference honors.
Redshirt-senior Nina Klein and junior Amanda Collins joined Veitner and Umstead as BIG EAST First Team selections. Senior Karlie Heistand and freshman Margot van Hecking Colenbrander garnered Second Team accolades for their performances this fall.
After guiding the team to a perfect 7-0 conference record and the program to 25 straight BIG EAST regular season wins, the coaching staff of head coach Nancy Stevens, associate head coach Paul Caddy and assistant coach Cheri Shulz was named the BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year. This season, the coaching staff led the Huskies to their fifth consecutive BIG EAST Regular Season Championship.
Veitner, who has rewritten the UConn record book, earned her third consecutive Offensive Player of the Year honor and is leading the nation in both points (65) and goals (27) so far this season. The forward is in the midst of another historical season, having notched her 100th career tally earlier this fall. With a hat trick at Villanova, Veitner became just the 12th person in Division I to eclipse the 100-goal mark. In that same contest, the senior set a BIG EAST record in points scored (10) and assists (4) in a single conference match. The Dusseldorf, Germany native is UConn’s all-time leader in points (283), goals (111) and assists (61).
For Umstead this is her second-career First Team selection and first Defensive Player of the Year honor. A critical key to the Huskies’ defense, the back is tied for first in the conference with a career-high 17 tallies. Umstead falls second in the conference to only Veitner in points with 43, while boasting 13 goals on the season. The senior has started all 17 games for the Huskies and has anchored a defense that allowed just 10 goals in 2017.
During her record-breaking season, Klein has been nearly perfect in the cage this fall, as UConn remains the only undefeated team in the nation at 17-0. The goalkeeper has earned her second-career First Team nod after helping the Huskies to a perfect 7-0 conference record. Klein recorded 10 shutouts this season, with five of them coming against conference opponents. The Topton, Pa. native currently ranks first in the nation in winning percentage (1.00) and goals against average (0.59), while her .808 save percentage is second best in the NCAA.
Collins earned her first-career First Team accolade after posting four goals and seven assists for 15 points in conference play. The midfielder is one of seven players to start all 17 games played and owns 37 points, while her 17 assists are a team-high. Collins is knotted for second in Division I, averaging 1.00 helpers per game.
This marks three straight All-BIG EAST selections for Heistand, who has started all 17 games for the Huskies. Heistand has played an important role in UConn’s dominating defense. The midfielder led a defense that recorded 10 shutouts, playing a complete game in all 10 contests. The senior has contributed offensively as well, tallying the game winner against then- No. 20 Boston University for her lone score of the season.
Van Hecking Colenbrander is off to an impressive freshman campaign thus far. The back paces all BIG EAST freshman in points (20) and goals (9) in conference play, while her two helpers are third best among league freshmen. Through 16 games played, the freshman is totaling 14 goals and eight assists for 36 points. Van Hecking Colenbrander’s offensive scoring is just as crucial to the team as her defensive ability to limit opponents’ opportunities as the team is outscoring opponents 85-10.
For Stevens, the all-time wins leader in NCAA field hockey history, this marks her 11th BIG EAST coaching award since taking over the helm in 1990.
UConn will look to carry its 17-game win streak into the BIG EAST Tournament where the Huskies will seek their sixth-straight tournament title. Top-seeded UConn will battle No. 4 Providence in the semifinal game Friday, Nov. 3 at 1:00 p.m. The league tournament will be held at Providence College, with the championship game being played Sunday, Nov. 5.
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