by Matthew Sheridan
Last Sunday, the field hockey team took on the No. 5-ranked Connecticut Huskies in Big East conference play at Villanova Stadium. Looking to continue their undefeated home record this year, the Wildcats (4-4, 0-1 Big East) led an inspiring effort against the nationally ranked Huskies (7-0, 1-0 Big East), but unfortunately lost 1-0 in heartbreaking fashion.
In a game which the Huskies dominated possession, Villanova stayed close thanks to its defense and the fantastic play of junior goalkeeper Alex Diekmann. Time after time, the ’Cats’ defenders stepped in at just the right moment to deflect a shot or a pass, or Diekmann made a big save, thus keeping UConn off the scoreboard and the game knotted at 0-0.
Head Coach Joanie Milhous was happy with her team’s defensive effort, especially that of her goalie.
“Incredible defensive effort. It was a total team effort,” she said. “If one girl needed to slide, the next girl stood in to take her spot. Our goalie played phenomenally well. She was aggressive and didn’t give many second chances that UConn can be so good at capitalizing on.”
Unfortunately, despite the great defensive play, Villanova could not get much going on the offensive end. Almost every ’Nova possession was short-lived, as UConn made a habit of regaining the ball before it even reached midfield.
Villanova was only able to muster up one shot on goal the entire game, coming off of its first penalty corner of the game with eight minutes left in the second half.
UConn forward Marie Elena Bolles was given a yellow card with 10:21 left in the second half, and Villanova held a one-player advantage for the next five minutes. During this period, Villanova controlled possession and seemed to be mounting an effort at goal. Senior captain and forward Kristen Davila’s shot off the Wildcats’ only penalty corner of the game was blocked by UConn’s goalie. This proved to be the only shot the Wildcats would have all afternoon.
Less than two minutes after killing off the Wildcats’ penalty advantge, UConn was awarded one of its 12 penalty corners on the day, and converted off a shot from just inside the top of the circle by graduate student back Louisa Boddy to make the score 1-0, which would hold until the last whistle. Despite the loss, Coach Milhous was still positive about the day’s events.
“Great way to play against the No. 5 team in the nation,” she said. “It was a great effort. The best part is hearing one of our senior captains remark, ‘We’re not satisfied because we could’ve won today.’ That’s what this team is all about, and, as a coach, it’s what you like to hear.”
With the loss, the Wildcats drop to 4-5 on the year and 0-2 in Big East play. Villanova returns to action at 12 p.m. this Saturday in Piscataway, N.J., against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.