The University of Connecticut field hockey team defeated Duke by a score of 2-0 to earn the program’s third National Championship at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. on Sunday afternoon. The Huskies, led by Hall of Fame head coach Nancy Stevens, cap a sensational season on the highest possible note with a record of 21-4, while Duke finishes its season at 17-7.
The 2013 national championship in field hockey is the 16th NCAA title in UConn history and the 17th overall national championship. The other NCAA Championships are in: field hockey (1981, 1985), men’s basketball (1999, 2004, 2011), women’s basketball (1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2013), and men’s soccer (1981, 2000). The 1948 UConn men’s soccer team were named the national champions by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America before there was an NCAA tournament in men’s soccer.
Duke earned the game’s early corner attempts, but Sarah Mansfield ’14 (CLAS) (Cornwall, England) denied three shots off the corners and the Husky defense played relentlessly to keep the game scoreless.
UConn used two first-half goals to open up a 2-0 lead over the Blue Devils, with both goals resulting from penalty corners. The Huskies capitalized on their second corner of the afternoon to record their first tally. Roisin Upton ’16 (ED) (Limerick, Ireland) launched a shot that Duke keeper, Lauren Blazing, turned aside, but the rebound squirted to an open Hunnable in front of the cage. The junior popped in her 23rd goal of the season to break onto the scoreboard at 23:05.
Connecticut struck again with 5:36 remaining in the first half. Anne Jeute ’14 (CLAS) (Meerbusch, Germany) resulted in another UConn corner, as time wound down before the intermission. Hunnable received the ball on the corner and ripped a hard low shot to the lower right corner of the goal. Mckenzie Townsend ’16 (CLAS) (Harpursville, N.Y.) positioned herself perfectly in front of the goal with her stick on the turf to redirect the shot up and over Blazing for a 2-0 UConn lead.
Connecticut nearly increased its lead in the second half, as Chloe Hunnable ’15 (CLAS) (Halstead, England) continued her hot play on the offensive end. Hunnable nearly tipped a Chrissy Davidson ’15 (CLAS) (West Lawn, Pa.) free hit into the back of the cage, but her redirect went just wide. Moments later, Hunnable let rip a shot that clanged off the crossbar and out of play.
Duke called a timeout with 8:54 to play, in the hopes of solving Sarah Mansfield, but could not find the key to the senior goaltender. Mansfield finished with five stops for Connecticut while her counterpart, Lauren Blazing, recorded three saves in the net for Duke. The shutout marked Mansfield’s 30th career shutout, which tops the UConn record books and caps an impressive career in net for the Huskies.
Marie Elena Bolles ’14 (NUR) (Phoenixville, Pa.), Hunnable, Upton, Davidson, and Mansfield were all named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team for their exceptional performances in UConn’s NCAA run.