Field Hockey in Zimbabwe is pretty big..It's Women's Team won Gold in the 1980 Olympics...It's produced some great American College Talent. Lauren Henderson is on of them who grew up in the 1990's...And Nancy Stevens was wowed by her ability to score...she convinced her to come from the warmth of her home country, just north of South Africa to what can be chilly Storrs...especially in November..
What was especially dangerous, a two hand backhand that she worked on since age 15. Her mother, Judy played on the National Team, but never pushed Lauren to play. They did move the ball around in the backyard, but mom doesn't take credit for the backhand...
In her freshman year of 2001, Henderson led the Huskies in scoring with 15 goals and 8 assists in a 8-9 campaign for the Huskies. Earning her the first of four straight First Team All Big East Honors of her career..Year two in 2002, Henderson's numbers went sky high with a team high 23 goals and four assists...Teammate Kelly Cochrane assisting on 21 goals on the season. The Huskies went 15-8, won the Big East Tournament in beating Syracuse in the the final 20 seconds on a goal by Henderson, then Villanova. But Northeastern in what Stevens called "Hurricane" conditions, beat UConn 1-0 in the NCAA"s. Henderson again first team All Big East, was also named a third team All American.
The 2003 season saw Nancy Stevens team win the Big East Regular Season Title and lose in the Tournament Final..But this time around, beat Northeastern in the NCAA's...only to fall two days later to Wake Forest in the Quarter-Finals..Prior to the Tournament, Stevens said this about Henderson "one of the best shooters I've ever coached. She's a great corner shooter, she has an exceptional backhand hit, reverse hit which is very difficult for goalies to read." That 2003 year, Henderson scored 28 goals and racked up 58 points to earn Big East Offensive Player of the Year and a First Team All American.
As her senior year approached in 2004, Henderson was ready again to fill up the cage. A 31 goal season in what was a 20-2 Season for the Huskies..As UConn outscored it's opponents 92-14 thru the season..Henderson a 4 goal game in a win over Quinnipiac. As the season played on, again Stevens "some can play the notes, but only the great players only understand the spacing the notes. It's hard to quantify, but I'll tell ya, you can't teach it." "She's wired differently," Stevens said. "She sees the game differently and is able to slow things down and stay calm in the middle of all the chaos. Others get hyper. She's a flatliner. You have to check her pulse."
That backhand was lethal as reading the angle of the stick is high or low, it's an unpredictable shot. As once again Henderson was named Big East Offensive Player of the Year and a First Team All American. The Huskies won the Big East Tournament for the second time in her career where she was named the MOP..In the 20-2 season, only Northeastern beat them..Once in Storrs on October 13th and again on day one of the NCAA's a month later.
When Henderson was done at UConn, she left as the school's All Time Leading Scorer and the first to 200pts. 97 goals and 19 assists for 213 points..Only Charlotte Veitner has passed her on the All Time list. Henderson also recorded 5 hat tricks in his career...
As natural goal scorer as UConn has ever had in Field Hockey..Glad she came from Zimbabwe, Lauren Henderson, a 2x All American and a UConn Legend