Former UConn field hockey All-Americans to face off in Olympic pool play

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Former UConn All-American Roisin Upton plays for the Irish Olympic field hockey team. Former UConn All-American Cecile Pieper plays for Germany. As Ireland gets ready to face off with Germany on Tuesday night at 11:15 p.m. ET in Tokyo in Pool A play, the UConn field hockey coaches will be watching in Connecticut and cheering for both sides.

“We’ve got to hope for a tie,” former UConn field hockey coach Nancy Stevens said Monday. “One hundred percent.”

“People are like, ‘Who you rooting for?’” UConn head coach Paul Caddy said. “I say, ‘I’m taking the neutral point of view.’”

The two are among five UConn field hockey players who have played in the Olympics over the years, joining Diane Madl (1996), Tracey Fuchs (1988, 1996) and Melissa Gonzalez (2012, 2016), who all played for the U.S.

Upton, a 2015 UConn graduate, was a midfielder on the Huskies’ 2013 and 2014 NCAA championship teams. Pieper, a forward, played for UConn in 2018 as a graduate student.

“It’s been exciting following both their journeys,” Stevens said. “They’re both so accomplished.”

Pieper was a 2016 Rio Olympian whose team won the bronze medal before she arrived at UConn.

Upton is playing for the first Irish field hockey team to make it to the Olympics. She scored the first Irish goal in the team’s opening 2-0 win over South Africa. She also scored the game-winner in a sudden death shootout against Canada in the qualifying game that advanced the Irish team to Tokyo. Ireland’s team has been on the rise of late, surprising many by winning the silver medal in the 2018 World Cup. The Irish lost to the Netherlands, the Olympic favorite.

“You have a world cup silver medalist and an Olympic bronze medalist — they’ve both enriched our lives,” Stevens said. “To play on the world stage, you have to be a special kind of person, and they are both incredibly special.”

Germany is 2-0 after wins over 2016 Olympic gold medalist Great Britain and India, and Ireland is 1-1 after the win over South Africa and a 4-0 loss to the Netherlands. The top four teams from the two groups will advance to the quarterfinals.

Stevens and Caddy have been able to watch all the games on NBC’s streaming site.

“It was 4-0 but the Irish fought hard and made it difficult for them,” Caddy said of Ireland’s loss. “It was a great performance because the Dutch are unbelievable.”

Lori Riley can be reached at

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