Big East Field Hockey Tournament: UConn Captures Eighth-Straight Title

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Big East Field Hockey Tournament: UConn Captures Eighth-Straight Title

Jacob Shiffer

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For two hours on a chilly Sunday afternoon, the Quinnipiac Field Hockey Stadium turned into a home stadium for the UConn Huskies women’s field hockey team. Their fans propelled them to a 2-0 victory over the Old Dominion Monarchs to clinch their eighth consecutive Big East championship.

The UConn chants began prior to the first whistle, and rarely stopped. The midfield bleachers were filled with Huskies sweaters, hats, and even a beanie in the shape of a Husky.

“I think it helped a lot. Especially the configuration of the venue,” Huskies head coach Nancy Stevens said after winning the 19th Big East championship of her career. “The fact that the stands are really literally almost over the field. We had great fan support. I think that when you get tired and hear those cheers I think it lifts your team.”

Some of those fans were family members who traveled long distances to watch their daughters play. That sentiment wasn’t lost among the players.

“My family is from Pennsylvania, they traveled four hours to come here,” redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Cheyenne Sprecher said through tears. “People from even farther, people from other countries came. It means the world for us to have them here supporting us.”

Sprecher, who was named Defensive Co-Player of the Year, put on an excellent performance in front of her family as she made four saves in her second shutout of the tournament and finished the weekend without giving up a goal.

The crowd maintained its energy even through a tough first in half in which the Huskies outshot the Monarchs 4-0 but couldn’t come away with a goal.

Luckily, the crowd kept its spirits up and just over six minutes into the third quarter, sophomore forward Maddy Wray made a pass to senior forward Svea Boker who backhanded a shot into the net to put the Huskies up 1-0.

That shot of adrenaline pushed a roaring crowd into hysterics, which propelled the Huskies to a second goal just one minute later. Boker struck again as she tapped it into the net off a pass from first-year midfielder Marie Auer to make it 2-0 in favor of the Huskies.

“It’s unbelievable to play in front of such a big crowd, Boker said. “Lots of parents came from overseas. It’s just amazing and they had fun as well so I’m really happy.”

Boker, who had already been named Big East Offensive Player of the Year, added some more hardware as she was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

After the game, Huskies fans saw five of their players named to the All-Tournament team. Sprecher’s two shutouts earned her a spot as she was joined by Boker, Wray, first-year midfielder Sophie Hamilton, and senior back Antonia Tiedtke.

The Huskies now wait for the selection committee’s decision on their seeding for the NCAA tournament. A top-four seed would give them home field until the Final Four, an extraordinary advantage as evidenced by today’s turnout. While they don’t know if the fans will be able to cheer them on from home, the team certainly feels like they deserve it.

“I told the team they’ve done everything they can,” Stevens said. “Now it’s in the hands of the committee for us to get a host site. I think we should be one of the top four seeds.”