UConn Women's Soccer has had a history of success in New England, the Big East and even the AAC. And come postseason, the program has been to the College Cup Semi's seven times and made 4 Championship Game Appearances where mighty North Carolina always stood in their way. If you don't know, the Tar Heels are to women's soccer to what the UConn Women are to basketball....even better actually.
The Huskies thrived in the mid 90's with numerous top notch players. That included Greenlawn, N.Y. Native Sarah Whalen, who had a monster year in 1997 that helped lead the Huskies to their third Championship Game Appearance. But let's give you a rundown of how the teams she played on did...
1994: 19-4, def Brown and Hartford (2OT) to get to Semi's where they lost to UNC (Whalen a back, joined Karen Warner and Jill Gelfenbien on the NCAA All Tournament Team)
1995: 19-3-2 (8-0 Big East) That included a 16 game win Streak and 9 game shutout streak...Defeated ND 5-4 to end the Irish's 36 game regular season win streak, but the Irish got revenge in the NCAA Quarterfinals..Whalen named an All American.
1996: 22-3 (school record) where 2 of the 3 losses came to ND, including 4-3 in the Big East Final...Santa Clara, who was a much a NCAA Rival as ND, ended the Huskies run in the quarters. Whalen again named an All American
(In 1995 and 1996 - while Kerry Connors of Somers, CT was the Big East Offensive POY, Whalen was named the Big East Defensive POY)
1997: 23-4 (school record) Whalen moved from the back to the front and became an offensive force. 21 goals, 22 assists and 64 points in her senior year. All UConn-Senior Records that still stand...Still, ND got the better of UConn in teh regular season meeting and Big East Final....BUT after a 2 OT win over Hartford and a win over William & Mary, ND stood in their way in the Semi's...Whalen scoring both goals in a 2-1 win, to end the Irish's undefeated season and getting them to the Finals where UNC knocked them off again 2-0. With Whalen's future USWNT Teammate Cindy Parlow scoring the game winner.
Now Whalen didn't do it all herself as Jen Carlson led the team with 24 goals, Carmie Landeen 18 goals and and Jenn Tietjen 21 assists.....Another teammate was Margaret Tietjen, Jenn's twin sister and current UConn Head Coach Margaret Rodriquez...In 1997, Whalen was named Women's Soccer National POY (Honda Awards Program), NSCA POY and a 3x All American....23 goals and 49 assists and her #8 has been retired by UConn, one of two players in UConn WSOC History.
While at UConn, Sara Whalen made the U.S. National team. First as an outside defender, then as her role evolved, became a late game sub in the midfield to add speed and goal scoring capabilities. And in the Summer of 1999, Whalen played on the National Team that went to the World Cup, hosted by the U.S. The "99ers". Whalen played in the late stages of regulation & all of OT in the title game against China in the Rose Bowl before the famous game winning PK by Brandi Chastain. Whalen was the first to hug Brandi after the winning goal. And in 2000, won a medal at the Sydney Olympics.In 65 Caps for the USWNT, Whalen scored 7 goals...
But Whalen's career took a change in 2002 where she played for Carolina of the Women's United Soccer Association, she tore an ACL...infections arose with a screw in her knee that led to infections, more surgeries and ligaments moved. Seven Surgeries in all that forced her to leave the game. After a two year battle physically and mentally, Sarah Wahlen ran the 2004 NYC Marathon....in 4 hours, 19 minutes and 38 seconds..
Today, Sarah Whalen Hess is married to a former Princeton Lacrosse player, a mother of three and now a licensed psychologist and cognitive behavioral therapist after getting her Masters from Fordham and Doctorate from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Sarah Whalen may forever be a part of that 99' World Cup Team, but prior her college career in Storrs makes her a UConn Legend