Big East post-season play is already under way for the Huskies, with the women’s soccer team advancing to the semi-finals of the Big East Championships and the field hockey and men’s soccer teams hosting tournament rounds this week.
After beating Louisville last week in the opening round of the Big East tournament, the women’s team upset Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., by a score of 2-0. The Huskies, seeded fourth in the league’s American Division, stand at 10-8-3 on the year and will face West Virginia, second seed in their division, on Friday at 5 p.m. in Piscataway, N.J. The other semi-final features top-seeded Marquette and No. 3 South Florida.
The Huskies ended the Irish’s 77-game unbeaten streak in league play. It was the longest such record of any sport in college athletics. Senior midfielder Elise Fugowski scored both goals in the victory, and junior goalkeeper Jessica Dulski preserved the victory with three point-blank saves in the final 11 minutes.
After a slow start to the season with two losses, head coach Len Tsantris says his team began to find more consistency, thanks to his upper class leadership.
“We’re going into the Big East [semifinals] with a little bit of a different team. We’re a bit more confident, playing well together and defending well,” says Tsantiris. “Our seniors have been consistent – [midfielder] Kacey Richards and [midfielder] Meghan Cunningham – and [forward] Angelika Johansson has been helping us big time up front. They’re the backbone of the team.”
The men’s soccer team, seeded No. 3, will host No. 6 seed DePaul at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium on Friday, Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. (postponed from Thursday owing to field conditions). The Huskies, ranked sixth nationally, finished the regular season at 11-2-4, with a conference record of 5-1-3.
Led by top scorers Tony Cascio (24 points), Carlos Alvarez (20), Stephane Diop (15), and Mamadou Diof (11), the Huskies have outscored the opposition 36-5 during the season. Senior goalkeeper Josh Ford continues to extend his record as the all-time shut-out leader for the Huskies, and overall has only allowed five goals this year.
Head coach Ray Reid says with the imbalance of the Big East schedule this season, the Huskies did not face DePaul, adding an element of the unknown to the opening round of the tournament.
“We don’t know much about them,” says Reid. “The guys are very focused. We’ve got a good group. We’re going to try and be very good defensively and not give the ball away in bad spots on the field.”
The field hockey team begins the defense of their Big East Championship on Saturday at the George J. Sherman Family Sports Complex, as host of the tournament. The Huskies, seeded No. 3, will square-off against No. 10 Louisville at approximately 1:30 p.m., preceded by the first semifinal, which will pit Syracuse against Rutgers, at 11 a.m.
Hall of Fame coach Nancy Stevens says her team hopes to benefit from playing at home, where the Huskies are unbeaten this year.
“We lost to the No. 1 team in the country [North Carolina] and then lost two overtime games [Louisville and Syracuse] on the road,” she says. “I think that home field advantage is going to give us the edge we need to win the Big East Tournament.”
The outstanding play of freshman goalkeeper Sarah Mansfield and forwards Anne Jeute, Lindsay Kissinger, and Marie Elena Bolles has helped to fuel the young Huskies during the season. “To have four freshmen contribute like that has been a pleasant surprise,” Stevens says. “We feel we have the best goalie in the conference.”
During the final home game of the regular season, the Huskies 1985 NCAA championship team was honored, later addressing the current team at a post-game reception.
“They want nothing more than for us to bring home another national championship,” Stevens says. “Those words were inspirational for our players to hear.”