With a birth in the Big East Tournament on the line for UConn as it closed out their regular season schedule at Villanova on Saturday, the Huskies put forth a strong effort, and were victorious with a score of 14-11. The win not only allowed Connecticut (No.3) to clinch a spot in the tournament, it also set the stage for a semifinal matchup this Thursday against the No. 2 seeded Georgetown Hoyas.
In this pivotal victory over the Villanova Wildcats, UConn saw a heroic performance by its own junior attacker, Katherine Finkleston, who tallied a season-high five goals, and seven points. As has generally been the case for UConn this season, the Huskies proved once again that they can generate offense from multiple sources. Attackers Jacqueline Jordan, Carly Palmucci, and midfielder Alexandra Crofts each contributed with two goals of their own in the winning effort. Star freshman Grace Nolan continues to impress, and she matched her own career-high with a three-point performance in this final regular season match.
While Villanova set the tone early by scoring the game’s first goal, a development that snowballed into the Wildcats holding a 4-2 lead with 13:31 to go in the first half, UConn responded well. The Huskies scored four of the game’s next five goals, and went into halftime up 6-5.
When the second half got underway, Connecticut’s strong defensive game was on display as the Huskies surrendered just a single goal through the half’s first 19 minutes. During that span, UConn built up a 13-6 lead. It was Jordan’s second goal of the game that put the Huskies on top 14-8 before the Wildcats pushed admirably hard to try and tie the score. Fortunately for Connecticut, 14-11 was as close as Villanova would get. UConn’s junior goalkeeper, Shannon Nee was also a key contributor to the Huskies successful outcome on Saturday, as she recorded nine saves and four ground balls in the victory.
The Huskies can now shift their attention to Thursdays’ postseason matchup against Georgetown, a team they lost to by a score of 13-12 earlier this month. This will be the 17th meeting between UConn and Georgetown, and a Connecticut win would not only count for revenge, it would also stand as the Huskies first ever Big East postseason victory. The game will be played in Storrs, where the Huskies are 6-0 in 2015.