Huskymania

By Ken Best

Tracking Huskymania on and off the field.

No. 5 Field Hockey Schedule Rated as Nation’s Top RPI

All-American Sarah Mansfield ’14 (CLAS) is the nation’s best goalkeeper in field hockey. (Stephen Slade ’89 (SFA) for UConn)

No. 5 Field Hockey Schedule Rated as Nation’s Top RPI

With the graduation of six starters and the loss to injury of Anne Jeute ’15 (CLAS), a second team All-America selection, Hall of Fame coach Nancy Stevens said earlier this season that the coaches and student-athletes of  the No. 5 field hockey team would need some time to develop with nine new faces and a handful of veterans.

As the Huskies prepare to meet No. 16 New Hampshire at the George J. Sherman Family Complex tonight at 7 p.m., Stevens says the team is making progress, even as it continues to find ways to improve in playing the nation’s No. 1 ranked Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) schedule in NCAA Division I field hockey.

The Huskies, who reached the NCAA Final Four last year, have posted a 7-0 record to date and have six other Top 25 teams on the 2012 schedule, including wins over No. 9 Penn State, No. 15 Michigan State and No. 21 Albany. The teams will face No. 2 Syracuse, No. 3 Princeton and No. 22 Boston College as part of its upcoming slate.

“That is a good place to be mid-season,” Stevens says. “Of course, we face a number of nationally-ranked teams in the weeks ahead and several top-ranked teams on the road.  We will need to work hard to meet those challenges.”

However returning the best goalkeeper in the nation in All-American Sarah Mansfield ’14 (CLAS), the 2011 Big East Rookie of the Year in Chloe Hunnable ’15 (CLAS), one of last season’ top scorers and quickest players in Marie Elena Bolles ’14 (NUR) and a four-year starting defender in Alicia Angelini ’13 (PHR) provides strong leadership for the Huskies.  Two experienced graduate students with a year of eligibility, Louisa Boddy ’14 (ED) and Katherine Baker ’14 (CLAS), have helped the Huskies maintain their momentum early in the season.

Boddy’s hat trick last weekend raised her scoring to 4 goals, with 2 assists, and Baker has 6 points on 1 goal and 4 assists this year. Bolles leads the team with 18 points on 7 goals and 4 assists and Hunnable has 13 points on 4 goals and 5 assists.

The team leaders say they are working to continue improving their individual skills.

“I want to get more assists this year,” Hunnable says. “It’s just striving to be the best you can be, not for yourself, but for the team. It’s nice to have a big group behind you pushing you and helping you to improve.”

Angelini says she is working on raising her offensive output to match her defensive contributions. Last season she scored 2 goals and has 6 assists in 22 games.  In the first seven games, she has 3 goals and 3 assists.

Even with a long list of accolades and recognition as among the best in the nation, Mansfield says she is trying to improve on a .909 save percentage.

“I want to work on my footwork some more, and when they’re shooting on the far post I need to get my hips straight to cut down on the angle of the ball,” Mansfield says. “And kicking. A goalie can never be too good at kicking. You can always get better.”

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Men’s soccer opens its Big East schedule tomorrow night at Morrone Stadium.  The No. 2 Huskies (6-0-1) square off against No. 13 St. John’s (5-0-3). The teams split last year’s match-ups, with UConn taking the regular season game before losing in OT during the Big East Tournament. The game is sold out, but can be viewed online at uconnhuskies.com or listen live on WHUS 91.7 FM beginning at 7 p.m.

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Women’s soccer (5-3-1, 1-1 Big East) wraps up its long road trip this weekend with a 3 p.m. game at No. 20 Georgetown (8-1-1, 2-0) today in Washington, D.C.,  before heading back north  then heads to Villanova (3-5-2, 1-1) for a 1 p.m. start on Sunday in Philadelphia. Both games will be broadcast on 91.7 FM.

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Fall softball gets underway for head coach Karen Mullins ’79 (ED), ’80 MA and the softball team with a double-header against Providence College on Sept. 22 at noon and 2 p.m. at Burrill Family Field at the Connecticut Softball Complex.  The Huskies also play two on Sept. 30 against Maine, on Oct. 6 against Quinnipiac and a split double-header against Eastern Connecticut and Albany on Oct. 7.

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Basketball news is starting to dribble in for the 2012-13 Huskies, which we’ll get to next week, but the more immediate news is the naming of four former women’s basketball players as members of the All-Decade Team of the Connecticut Sun. Current Sun players Tina Charles ’10 (CLAS), Asjha Jones ’02 (BUS) and Renee Montgomery ’09 (CLAS) join former Sun star Nykesha Sales ’00 (BUS) in the recognition.