Louisville, Ky. (WHAS) – Connecticut’s Louisa Boddy’s goal at the 2:13 mark in overtime gave the fifth-ranked Huskies (17-2) a 2-1 win over the 25th-ranked University of Louisville (12-8) field hockey team in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Conference Championship Friday evening at Trager Stadium.
“The team showed so much character, they worked really hard, I’m just so proud of their effort this year and tonight against a team like Connecticut,” said U of L head coach Justine Sowry. “We were just going to keep fighting and keep working because we felt like it was our time.”
The matchup between the No. 2 seeded Huskies and the No. 3 seeded Cardinals featured an evenly fought battle throughout most of the game. The Huskies had an opportunity to score midway through the first half when Marie Elena Bolles drew Louisville goalkeeper Erin Conrad out of the cage to the middle of the circle and sent a shot past her and toward an empty cage. Louisville sophomore Mallory Mason sprinted across the circle and cleared the ball before it crossed the line for her second defensive save of the season to keep the Huskies off of the scoreboard.
Connecticut was awarded the only corner of the first half with just under three minutes remaining on the clock. Conrad stopped Boddy’s initial shot and Chloe Hunnable’s attempt sailed over the cage to send the teams into the locker room scoreless with the Huskies holding a 4-2 advantage in shots and a 1-0 edge in corners.
The Huskies finally broke through with 9:10 remaining the second half when Vicky Arthur dribbled down the right side of the end line and sent a shot into the side of the cage to give UConn a 1-0 lead at the 60:50 mark in the game. Arthur’s goal came two minutes after Connecticut goal called back because the ball went off of the wrong side of Marie Elena Bolles’ stick.
Louisville answered six minutes later after drawing its second corner of the game. Freshman Elisa Garcia’s shot was stopped by Connecticut’s Sarah Mansfield, but senior Amber Thomas was there for the rebound and connected on her team-best tenth goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1 with 3:28 remaining in regulation. The second half concluded with the teams tied at 1-1. Each team had four shots and two corners.
The game entered a 15 minute, seven per side, sudden-victory overtime period. Two minutes into the OT period, the Huskies drew a corner and Boddy sent a pass from Hunnable over a diving Conrad into the cage for the game-winner.
UConn (17-2) outshot Louisville (12-8) 9-6 in the game and held a 4-2 edge in corners. Conrad collected four saves while Mansfield had five stops.
“I’m really proud of their performance, especially our seniors: Amber Thomas, Erin Conrad, Haley Jurich and Natasha Leickly,” said Sowry. “Those four seniors have had incredible careers, but the work they’ve done for us this year has really given us a platform for us to build upon.”