After capping a perfect season by winning the NCAA championship last year, the UConn field hockey team lost six starters, including an All-American goalkeeper.
"We're not used to being this inexperienced," coach Nancy Stevens said Sunday. "Over 60 goals walked out the door with graduation."
But the Huskies, ranked No. 1 in the country, are still winning.
Sunday, they rallied from a one-goal, first-half deficit to beat No. 5 Michigan 2-1 in a battle of two of last year's Final Four teams at the Sherman Family Sports Complex.
The young UConn team, which starts six freshmen and sophomores, is keeping multiple winning streaks alive. The Huskies have won 27 straight (after going 23-0 last year) and have a 40-game home winning streak.
"We have a completely different look this year," said midfielder Amanda Collins, one of three senior starters. "Which is exciting. But also our first scrimmage, we struggled a little. But we've morphed into a good team. If we can keep growing, it will be exciting to see what we can do in a season.
"We were down against Northwestern, too, but we came back and won it. That's actually what we discussed on the field. We've been here before. We know we can do it."
UConn (4-0) outshot Michigan 20-3, including 7-2 in the first half.
Still, Michigan (1-3) scored first. Emma Way made it 1-0 4:14 into the game, and UConn still trailed 1-0 at halftime.
"I think they had a really good defense," Collins said. "They were good at blocking us from getting into the circle. We had opportunities to finish, but it was just a matter of getting it into the goal cage. Their goalie had a phenomenal game."
The Huskies got onto the board with 23:10 left in the second half when Michigan goalkeeper Anna Spieker (11 saves) made a save and freshman Abby Gooderham took the rebound and put it in to tie the score.
UConn also had more penalty corners, a 9-1 advantage, with six in the second half.
The Huskies capitalized on a corner with 5:22 left, when sophomore Jessica Dembrowski scored off an assist from Gooderham.
"We had to come back from one-nil," Gooderham said. "It was good to get the first goal, and we came back from there, really.
"We just needed to connect a bit better. And their goalie was really good."
"It's a [national semifinals] team from last year, and their goalkeeper played great," Stevens said. "She's 6 feet, and she covers a lot of space. Let's give credit to her. She covered the cage well."
The Huskies have wins over No. 12 Northwestern and No. 15 Stanford, as well as a 5-0 win over Michigan State in their home opener Friday night.
"It's more fun," Stevens said of the season so far. "Last year, some of the games, it was just a matter of how many [goals] we were going to score. Now this year, we've had to work for all our victories. It was 4-2 against Northwestern, 3-0 against Stanford. Today was 2-1. Not that we didn't [work] last year, but we were scoring so many."
This article is written by Lori Riley from The Hartford Courant and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.