By Nicholas Hellinghausen
The University of Connecticut women’s lacrosse team (9-5) saw mixed results on the road this weekend against the Villanova Wildcats (6-8).
Game one of the series saw Villanova jump out to an early 2-0 lead behind two unassisted Caroline Curnal goals. The lead would not last long though, as UConn quickly countered with their high-powered offense. The Huskies completely dominated the middle of the first half, dictating play and racking up eight unanswered goals to secure an 8-2 lead. Sydney Watson netted four of UConn’s goals, while Grace Coon notched a hat-trick of her own.
The Wildcats ended their nearly 20-minute scoring drought with Katie Comerford’s 22nd goal of the season, with only 7:13 to play in the half. Villanova started to find their footing toward the end of the first half, generating opportunities of their own and preventing the Huskies from adding to their lead. In the final two minutes of the opening half, Haley Driscoll and Olivia Piccirilli each recorded a goal for the Wildcats, bringing the score to 8-5 in favor of the Huskies.
The Huskies struck first in the second half following a Coon goal off of a Watson assist. Comerford would turn around just 18 seconds later and find the back of the net for the Wildcats, cutting the UConn lead back down to three. From that point on, Villanova struggled to get anything going on offense. The Huskies prevented the Wildcats from getting good looks to score, allowing only one more goal. UConn continued to produce sensational strikes, tallying six goals across the second half.
UConn concluded the first game of the series with a 14-7 victory. Coon and Watson each finished the game with six goals apiece, while Kyra Place and Lauren Barry recorded the other two UConn goals.
The Huskies got off to a lively start in the second game of the series. After Villanova’s Curnal scored the first goal of the game, UConn didn’t trail once for the rest of the first half. The Huskies were receiving production from a variety of players and keeping Villanova under immense pressure.
In the first half, UConn generated 16 shots on goal, with six different players finding the back of the net. The Huskies secured six more draw controls and forced two more turnovers than the Wildcats in the opening half-hour. UConn would hold a 9-6 advantage going into halftime.
Both teams began the second half with excellent defense stops. Neither team was able to get on the board for the first 11 minutes of the half. The squads were flying around the field and forcing the opposing team to go for low-percentage shots. With 18:56 to play, Stephanie Palmucci was the first player to record a goal, extending the UConn lead to four.
The Wildcats refused to give up as they went on a 4-1 run over the next eight minutes, bringing the score to 11-10, coming within one point of the Huskies. UConn’s Coon would push the UConn lead back up to two with 9:13 left to play. The Huskies had a couple of chances to go up by four goals in the closing minutes, but shots by both Abby Vetsch and Lia LaPrise slightly missed their targets and bounced off of the crossbar.
With two minutes remaining in the match, UConn was still leading by two goals and in a prime position to sweep the away series. This would not be the case though, as Driscoll netted a goal with 1:46 remaining and Comerford with 34 seconds to spare, tying the score at 12-12 and forcing overtime. In overtime, Brittany Bruno was quickly able to capitalize off of Alyssa Conklin’s turnover to complete a stunning come-from-behind victory for Villanova, 13-12.
The Huskies will look to rebound from this heartbreaking loss and finish their regular season on a high note when they take on Georgetown next weekend in a two-game home series. UConn is currently tied for second in the Big East with Georgetown, with a 5-3 conference record.