Women’s Soccer: Hill, Huskies look to repeat as conference champions

UConn freshman forward Kim Urbanek dribbles the ball during the Huskies' game against East Carolina at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. The team is preparing for a rematch against the Pirates on Tuesday in the American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinal round. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

After receiving a number of all-conference honors Monday morning, the No. 11 UConn women’s soccer team is set to take on East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinal round Tuesday in Dallas.

The Huskies (16-2-0, 8-1-0 American) are coming into the tournament as the No. 1 seed after winning the regular season conference title. UConn is also the defending conference tournament champion, claiming the title last season as the No. 4 seed and earning the automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

The Pirates (8-9-2, 3-5-1 American), on the other hand, claimed the No. 8 seed after UConn defeated SMU 2-1 in the final game of the regular season, eliminating the Mustangs from contention.

This will be the second meeting of the season between UConn and East Carolina. The Huskies handedly won the first matchup in a 3-0 rout in Storrs on Oct. 8.

UConn took advantage of the Pirates early in the last matchup, scoring two goals in the first 25 minutes. While the Huskies only took 14 shots in total, half of them were on goal. Three of the seven shots on goal landed in the back of the net.

East Carolina struggled during conference play, but one of their three wins in The American came against the No. 3-seed UCF. In a stunning upset early in the conference schedule, UCF lost 1-0 in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Knights outshot the Pirates 16-10, but a goal with 31 seconds to play put East Carolina in position for the win.

The Pirates’ other two wins came against No. 7-seeded Memphis and Houston, who lost every game in conference play this season.

UConn won a plethora of all-conference honors Monday, just one day before start of the American Athletic Conference tournament. The conference announced the Huskies had won three of the five individual player awards. In addition, head coach Len Tsantiris earned recognition as Coach of the Year, yet another achievement in his 35 seasons with the program.

Junior forward Rachel Hill, for the second year in a row, was named Co-Offensive Player of the Year. She shared the award with UCF’s Carol Rodrigues. Junior goalkeeper Emily Armstrong was named Goalkeeper of the Year.

In a surprise announcement, junior forward Stephanie Ribeiro won the Midfielder of the Year award. Ribeiro played at forward for the majority of the season, but the conference opted to honor her offensive success and defensive prowess with the award anyway.

Hill, Armstrong and Ribeiro were named to the all-conference first team. Senior midfielder Samantha McGuire, who powered the Huskies to a 7-1-0 conference record with strong offensive play in the final five games of the regular season, was named to the all-conference second team.

Freshman forward Kim Urbanek was the only unanimous selection to the conference’s all-rookie team. Freshman defender Liane Keegans joined Urbanek as the Huskies’ second member of the all-rookie team roster.

UConn will begin its quest for back-to-back conference tournament championships at 2:30 p.m. at Westcott Field in Dallas, Texas.


Kyle Constable is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at kyle.constable@uconn.edu. He tweets @KyleConstable.