Big East Field Hockey Tournament: UConn, Old Dominion Advance to Final

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Big East Field Hockey Tournament: UConn, Old Dominion Advance to Final

Credit: UConn Athletics

Credit: UConn Athletics

Credit: UConn Athletics

Credit: UConn Athletics

Steve Zocco

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#3 UConn tallied two second half goals to glide past Providence, while #18 Old Dominion surpassed #19 Liberty just before halftime and never surrendered, propelling both into Sunday’s Big East field hockey final in Hamden.

All four teams found themselves in a secondary battle with the elements, as a cold front drove the temperature into the mid-30s and produced wind gusts up to 30 mph.

In the opener, the Huskies (17-3, 7-0 Big East), who owned a two-thirds advantage in possession, were held scoreless until an early penalty corner in the second half.  Friars graduate keeper Lydia Rice made a brilliant shin save on a direct shot attempt, but sophomore Maddy Wray corralled the loose ball and flicked it to senior Antonia Tiedke at the goal post who tapped it in for the opening strike.

Wray solidified the win in the fourth quarter with a breakaway goal, led by Big East Player of the Year Svea Boker, who notched her league-leading 50th point of the season.  The Huskies took a 2-0 lead and held on to complete the shutout.

Wray led the way with three points while Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year Cheyenne Sprecher posted three saves and recorded her 11th shutout of the season.

Providence (12-7, 4-3 Big East) finished with 11 or more wins for the fourth straight season.

In the later matchup, the Monarchs (11-6, 6-1 Big East) capitalized on their first penalty corner, which came in the fifth minute of play, electing to sweep wide for freshman Nicole Fredericks who executed a perfect redirection behind senior keeper Alison Schaefer.

The Flames (10-8, 5-2 Big East) equalized in the second quarter on another penalty corner when sophomore Lizzie Hamlet deflected a direct shot from Big East Freshman of the Year Daniella Rhodes.

The Monarchs retook the lead for good just before the half off a driving pass out of the corner from senior Ashleigh Thomas, which snuck through several players before coming to rest on the stick of sophomore Riley Taylor, alone in front of goal, who knocked it home.

A final goal late in the third quarter shut the door on a 3-1 victory.

In an extremely physical match that included four green cards, Monarchs redshirt sophomore keeper Cam McGilvery led the charge, coming off her line to squelch two breakaways, one of which resulted in a bloody nose after a collision with a teammate. On the same play, junior Marlee McClendon made a clutch defensive save, plucking the ball out the air just before it crossed the goal line.

Liberty, who faced seven straight ranked opponents to end its campaign, including the top four teams in the country, still has an outside shot at making the NCAA Tournament field of 18.

UConn and Old Dominion will return to the turf on Sunday at 1 p.m. for the Big East Championship finale.  The Huskies will be vying for their eighth consecutive title.