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Umstead Excels on Defense
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2017-12-06

Upper Perkiomen graduate helps UConn win second title in four years

 

           Casey Umstead joined the University of Connecticut's field hockey team in the fall of 2014 as an accomplished scorer. She finished her college career as the 2017 Big East Defensive Player of the Year.

            In between, the 2014 Upper Perkiomen graduate competed in four

consecutive Final Fours and captured two NCAA titles. On Nov. 19, Umstead helped lead the Huskies to a 2-1 victory over Maryland in the national championship game in Louisville, Kent. She anchored the defense that posted 12 shutouts during an undefeated 23-game season.

           "What more could you ask for in a college career?" she said late last month. "I couldn't be happier."

            The position shift, at the beginning of Umstead's junior season, caught her off guard. She said the incoming freshmen class lacked a replacement for a key defender lost to graduation.

            "The coaching staff thought I would be the best fit," Umstead said. "I was actually excited to take on a new role. I did whatever they needed me to do."

            Umstead, who had previously played only as a forward and midfielder, earned the reputation of one of the nation's top high school players. She was named first team all-state four years in a row and was selected for the Future Elites as well as the USA U-17 and U-19 teams. During her senior year, she scored 51 of her 128 career goals to help lead the Indians to the District One title and deep run in the PIAA playoffs.

            After seeing limited action as a freshman with the Huskies during their 2014 national championship run, Umstead emerged as a key contributor during her sophomore season. She scored a career-best 18 goals and tied for second on the team with 43 points.

            In 2016, after moving to the back line, she earned third-team All-American honors and was named to All-Mideast Region and All-Big East first teams. Umstead managed to score 18 goals and posted a career-high 51 points, for the Huskies, who lost in overtime to North Carolina in the national semifinal.

            Umstead discovered that she is a better defender than she was as an attacker, which really surprised her. "I was terrible at defense in high school she said.

            This season, she finished second on the team in goals (15) and assists (15). Most of Umstead's offense chances came on penalty corners. She was equally effective as a defender, helping UConn to allow just 16 goals.

            "As a defender, you've got to be able to see the whole field and take the best path to the ball," Umstead said. "My experience as an attacker helped me anticipate what the opposing forwards would do."

            Umstead – a member of Team USA's Developmental Team, based in Lancaster – says her ultimate goal is to compete for the country in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan at her new position.  She has also applied to a Pennsylvania university to complete her studies as a Physician's Assistant.

            "I have two separate options working for me," Umstead said.


 

 

 

 

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