ORLANDO, Fla. - The University of Connecticut traveled to the campus of Central Florida in Orlando with a weekend of perfect temperatures and a perfect 3-0 record to start the season. The Huskies defeated UCF (10-8), South Florida (12-2) and No. 6 Virginia Tech (8-5).
"I think the team knew what going 3-0 would mean for the program, especially our captains." said UConn coach Marc Paolini.
Despite having to adjust from practicing in snow two weeks ago in Connecticut to the heat of the Florida sun, UConn was able to pull out a 10-8 victory in the first game against UCF. UConn junior Quincy Pecora had an impressive offensive weekend (seven goals in three games). Pecora, along with freshman Matt Crowe along with sophomores Brett LeClair and Brian Whooley led the way for the Huskies with two goals each against UCF. Sophomores Ben Hamel and Dan Baird also contributed one goal apiece for UConn.
On Sunday afternoon, Leclair led the way in points for the Huskies, scoring three goals to go along with two assists in a 12-2 win over USF. Not to be outdone, also scoring three goals on the day was Pecora. Additionally, UConn received one goal scoring contributions from Max Boggini, Jeff Campbell, Richard Rorick, Chris Faherty and Richie Miller.
On Monday night, the toughest test of the early season came against Virginia Tech. Looking to build off the first PCLL conference title and first MCLA National Tournament appearance in 2015, UConn knew that had a great opportunity to make a statement in 2016.
Tech opened the scoring in the game to take an early 1-0 lead. Whooley tied the game before Pecora gave UConn a 2-1 lead. In the second quarter, Virginia Tech’s potent offense tied the game at two. Eleven seconds later, the Hokies scored on the next faceoff to take a 3-2 lead.
"When we went down 3-2 early in the second, our guys kept working," said Paolini. "They kept fighting. A great team like Virginia can take the game over at any time, I'm proud of the way our guys responded."
UConn responded with two goals of their own by junior Ryan Walker and Hamel to take a 4-3 lead into halftime.
UConn’s defense, led by sophomore Alex Gallaer, junior Shawn Dunster and junior Mitch Glasgow, came alive in the second half. The entire UConn defense, combined with the LSMs and stellar goalie play of freshman Dominick Serio (16 saves), kept the Hokies off the scoreboard during the entire third quarter. Meanwhile, UConn junior John Takita and Crowe scored goals to increase the UConn lead to 6-3.
In the fourth quarter, Pecora and Whooley both scored their second goals of the game to bring UConn’s lead up to 8-3. Tech would find the back of the net again with 8:03 left in the fourth quarter and added another to make the final score, 8-5.
"It's a great win for the program, something we need to build on," Paolini said. "We can enjoy it for a little while and then get back to work as we still have a long season ahead of us.”