SYRACUSE, N.Y. — For the fourth straight season, the UConn field hockey team is heading to the NCAA Final Four, after an incredible 3-2 double-overtime win over third-seeded Syracuse on Sunday afternoon at Coyne Stadium.
After nearly 100 minutes of play, it was the Huskies (22-1) who came out on top when junior Charlotte Veitner scored the game-winner in the 91st minute, assisted by Amanda Collins, that gave UConn a stunning victory over the Orange.
In two overtime periods — both seven on seven — the Huskies answered the challenge, despite being outnumbered at certain points due to penalty time. UConn charged down the field in the 91st, and despite being tired and beaten up, it found one more spark in Veitner’s score.
UConn’s breakaway left Collins with the ball in the circle, who nudged the ball forward and past the Syracuse defender, where Veitner tapped it past Orange goalkeeper Regan Spencer. It was Veitner’s second goal of the game.
The Huskies overcame the odds, knocked off Syracuse and are heading to Norfolk, Virginia, for the Final Four next weekend — their 14th in program history.
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Nina Klein was stellar all afternoon, but especially late in the game — knocking away shot attempts by the Orange. Her biggest save came on a Syracuse corner in the 38th minute of regulation, which kept the game tied at that point.
Junior Karlier Heistand led the defense, making several key plays to thwart the Syracuse attack. Seniors Anna Middendorf and Olivia Bolles, as well as junior Casey Umstead, formed a solid backline.
UConn and Syracuse played aggressively in the second half, resulting in four yellow cards being awarded to players. In the 66th minute, the Orange tied the game on a penalty corner conversion — bringing the game to overtime.
UConn’s ability to earn penalty corners in the first half made the difference, as both goals came off corner opportunities. The Huskies had five penalty corners to Syracuse’s one, resulting in a 2-1 halftime lead.
Veitner was instrumental in the final corner of the half, dribbling into the circle and earning it for the Huskies. Umstead then delivered, shooting a ball that was blocked, but following up her shot and putting it in the lower part of the cage.
Umstead’s 18th goal of the season gave UConn a crucial 2-1 lead heading into the half — giving all of the momentum back to the Huskies.
Earlier in the half at the 23-minute mark, Veitner deflected in a pass from senior Anna Middendorf on a corner, breaking a scoreless tie. Veitner entered the ball, then snuck near the far post for the tap in.
UConn’s 1-0 lead was short-lived, as the Orange scored on a penalty corner in the 25thminute to tie the game. Through the half, Middendorf had two hard shots on corners that were both saved by the Syracuse goalkeeper.
For the game, UConn held a 10-9 shots edge and 7-4 advantage in penalty corners.
The No. 6 Huskies advance to play the No. 4 North Carolina next Friday in the NCAA semifinals on the Old Dominion campus. But for now, the Huskies will rest.