Connecticut becomes lone non-ACC team to advance to national semifinals
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Connecticut punched its ticket to the NCAA National Semifinal for the 11th time in program history on Sunday afternoon with a 3-1 win against Michigan State at Syracuse. The Huskies continue to roll, improving their season record to 19-4 overall. The Spartans conclude their season with a 14-10 record.
The Huskies will face North Carolina in Norfolk, Va., on Friday. The second semifinal match will feature a battle between Maryland and Duke.
The Spartans, fresh off of a big upset against Syracuse on Saturday afternoon, went straight at the Huskies in the early going, possessing the ball in the UConn defensive half for the first few minutes of play. UConn minimized any shots on net and shifted momentum back in its favor jumpstarted by the first corner of the game in the 10th minute. After several good chances and a string of corners, Anna Jeute cashed in for the second time in as many days to put the Huskies on the board. After inserting a penalty corner, Jeute rushed to the front the net just in time for a Roisin Upton blast from the top of the circle to find its way through traffic and to the Jeute’s stick, tipping up and over the keeper for the score at 16:09.
UConn struck again at 24:40 to take a 2-0 lead on Chloe Hunnable’s 22nd goal of the year. Olivia Bolles played a long ball up the right sideline to sister Marie Elena Bolles. Marie Elena Bolles carried deep into Spartan territory, trailed by Hunnable on a two-on-one opportunity. Bolles drew the defender and goaltender, dishing to Hunnable in the middle for a wide-open finish.
Michigan State called a timeout following the second UConn goal, breaking from the huddle to capitalize on a UConn yellow card to trim the lead down to 2-1 with a score by Adelle Lever at 25:45. UConn reclaimed ground in the closing minutes of the second half, controlling the ball in its offensive zone for the remainder of the first frame.
The Spartans threatened to deadlock the score in the second half, gaining their first corner of the game after a yellow card sidelined a Huskie. UConn called a timeout with 17:08 remaining in an effort to break up the back-and-forth play. Marie Elena Bolles earned a penalty corner almost immediately as play resumed, but an Anna Middendorf blast was tipped wide of the goal.
UConn put the game on ice with Sophie Bowden’s fourth of the year. Marie Elena Bolles collected a Roisin Upton aerial and sprinted the length of the midfield, sending a hard shot low and away on net that Bowden redirected on the back door for the 3-1 cushion. UConn held the Spartans scoreless in the second half to seal the win.
Marie Elena Bolles assisted on two of UConn’s three goals, while Hunnable scored for the fourth game in a row. UConn is now 14-1 when Hunnable finds the back of the net.
Sarah Mansfield was forced to make three saves in goal for the Huskies. She picks up her 19th victory of the season with the win. Molly Cassidy played a solid game for the Spartans, making eight saves in the Michigan State cage, finishing with a 14-10 showing on the season.
The victory improves UConn’s all-time NCAA record to 31-22 and 8-0 in all meetings against Michigan State. The Huskies have posted a 10-3 record against ranked opponents this fall.