No. 20 UConn women’s soccer dealt Temple its third straight 1-0 loss in the Huskies’ first home game in nearly a month Friday night.
Junior forward Rachel Hill scored in the 37th minute, maneuvering through the defenders and into the center of the box before taking the shot from five yards out. This proved to be just enough for the Huskies (10-2-0, 2-1-0 American) to earn a win against the offensively stymied Owls (8-5-0, 0-3-0 American).
‘Sloppy’ start for Huskies
The offense did not come easy for the Huskies early on, though. Head coach Len Tsantiris expressed frustration about his team’s play early in the game.
“We started very sloppy,” Tsantiris said. “We were lucky the first 10-15 minutes.”
Not only did the offense struggle, Temple pushed the defense to its limit with several shots that nearly landed in the back of the net. The Owls led 8-7 in shots and 4-2 in shots on goal at halftime.
Tsantiris said part of the problem might have been because it was the first home game after five in a row on the road, but could not definitively say what the cause was.
Hill described Temple’s pressure as “a little bit scary.” She said the rain and the start time getting pushed up two hours early left the team unprepared for it.
“Once we got almost scored on, I think everyone kind of flipped a switch, ‘We need to wake up and get going,’” Hill said.
Tsantiris said the trait of a good team is finding a way to win after starting like the Huskies did Friday night.
Armstrong records fourth clean sheet
It is not easy to earn a clean sheet in the rain, but junior goalkeeper Emily Armstrong got her fourth of season on an otherwise cold and dreary night.
“Given the conditions, it’s hard to really hold anything,” Armstrong said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry. I think I did a good job just making sure the ball was secure or away from the goal.”
Tsantiris said she made some “big-time saves,” but on a couple of occasions got lucky, adding with a grin on his face that “her friend, the post, helped her.”
Armstrong said she has made “vast improvements” from last season that have contributed to her success in the goal in 2015. She credits playing with a competitive team this summer and training with backup goalkeeper Allison Saucier as being key factors in her growth.
Saucier and Armstrong shared goalkeeping responsibilities last season, working together in a half-by-half platoon. Tsantiris gave the starting job to Armstrong this year when Saucier was not ready to play at the start of the season because of lingering minor injuries. However, Saucier still works with Armstrong in practice.
“She helps push me, and I think that’s helped me improve,” Armstrong said.
Hill scores again
Hill continued the recovery from her five-game scoring slump, adding her ninth goal of the season.
“She had a slump there for a couple of two or three games,” Tsantiris said. “She’s coming back. Now she’s got three goals in two games. It’s great. She works to start getting there.”
The goal was Hill’s fifth game-winner in 2015. She now has 38 goals in 55 career games at UConn.
Perfect at home
With the win, UConn improved to 5-0 at Morrone Stadium in its 2015 campaign. And the team has a clear understanding of how home wins can strengthen a team’s résumé.
“(It’s) very important,” Hill said. “Just getting those points means so much, especially at home. You should be winning at home.”
Tsantiris said winning conference games at home is crucial, because winning on the road is never easy.
“We have to win games, especially now in your conference,” Tsantiris said. “It’s so difficult to get points when you travel. So, this is big. We’ve got to take care of all the games at home, at least we got to fight to do that."