FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA Junior midfielder Emily Weinberg registered one of just two overall shots on goal for the Hoyas against the Huskies Saturday. UConn had 27 shots.
Junior midfielder Emily Weinberg registered one of just two overall shots on goal for the Hoyas against the Huskies Saturday. UConn had 27 shots.

The Georgetown field hockey team (4-6, 0-1 Big East) suffered a difficult 6-0 setback to the defending national champions, No. 5 Connecticut Huskies (7-3, 1-0 Big East) Saturday. The game was the Big East conference opener for both teams.

Connecticut, now 12-0 all-time against the Hoyas, was led by freshman forward Casey Umstead, who recorded her first career hat trick. The Huskies dominated the possession for the majority of the game, taking a whopping 27 shots while the Hoyas only managed two. Georgetown got off to a strong start, only allowing two goals — both coming off of penalty corners — in the first half. However, the Huskies’ depth and experience began to show in the second half, as they recorded four goals in a span of 14 minutes.

Head Coach Shannon Soares and her players will look to focus on the positives of the game as they move forward. The Huskies undoubtedly represented a difficult test for the Hoyas, but Soares was pleased with her team’s execution.

“I thought the team did a really good job sticking to our game plan. We did our best to neutralize their strengths, but playing a half-field press requires a lot of discipline,” Soares said.

The Hoyas do have a number of areas that they will look to improve upon, according to Soares. Because UConn dominated possession, Georgetown did not have many scoring opportunities. Sophomore forward Aliyah Graves-Brown and junior midfielder Emily Weinberg recorded the only shots on goals for the Hoyas. while the Huskies registered 27 shots. Soares was disappointed with her team’s execution on those few opportunities.

“Against a team like [Connecticut], you’re not going to get very many opportunities, and I think we could have done a better job in those counterattacking situations,” Soares said.

Soares said that she and her coaching staff would look to work on the team’s counter-attack in advance of the team’s upcoming home games against Providence (8-4, 0-1 Big East) and Saint Joseph’s (6-6, 2-2 Atlantic 10). Those games are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 11, and Sunday, Oct. 12, respectively, and both start at 12 p.m.. The Hoyas are optimistic that the experience from playing the Huskies will help them in those games and for the more distant future.

“UConn is the defending champion and they’re always great competition for us,” Weinberg said. “I think now that we have seen the best of the best we will be more ready for whatever comes to us in the future.”

Junior midfielder Louise Chakejian echoed that sentiment.

“Our game against UConn proved to our team and coaches that we will go out on the field ready to fight and play smart against any team we play,” she said.
Another reason for optimism is the play of sophomore goalkeeper Rachel Skonecki, who recorded a career-high 10 saves while facing a veritable barrage of Connecticut shots. Soares was thrilled with her goalkeeper’s performance.

“Rachel had a great game, especially in the first half. She has a lot of confidence, and I’m really proud of the way she has improved from last year to this year,” Soares said.

Prior to the game, the Hoyas enjoyed a lunch at the home of junior midfielder Callie Hiner, in Westport, Conn. Soares explained that the team tries to the visit the homes of their players if they are near to the site of a game. The lunch provided a bonding experience for the team.

“We were privileged to have Callie Hiner’s family open up their beautiful home to us for … lunch,” Soares said. “We consider ourselves a family, and I think it’s great for our coaches and players to be able to get a sense of their teammates’ roots.”

The team’s family-like atmosphere has been a major focus for the coaching staff.

“Since the start of preseason, we have worked on creating a new team identity and defining what it means to be a member of the Georgetown field hockey team,” Chakejian said.

Chakejian, Weinberg and the rest of the team’s players believe that their strong chemistry and sense of identity have helped them on the field.

“I think [the] team dynamic has really helped us,” Weinberg said. “We’re all fighters, and we’re all fighting for each other.”

The Hoyas have already shown great improvement this year, as their four wins so far this season match their total from the previous two seasons combined. Still, they hope that their close-knit team atmosphere will contribute to even further improvement. After playing a juggernaut like UConn, there is no doubt that they will be battle-tested for the challenges that lie ahead.

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