The atmosphere was nothing short of electric as the UConn women’s soccer team defeated conference foe USF 3-1 on Sunday, Oct. 16 on Senior Day.
It was the final home game of the season for forwards Rachel Hill and Stephanie Ribeiro, goalkeeper Emily Armstrong, midfielder Maddie Damm and defender Toriana Patterson.
“You never take it for granted. You’re always just so grateful for everything you have,” Hill said. “Each day, whether it’s practice or a game, you just go out, representing [UConn].”
From the start, it was apparent to everyone that this game was going to be much more fast-paced than normal. With emotions riding high and the fans yelling loud, the energy could clearly be seen on the field for both the Huskies and the Bulls.
Possession was very back-and-forth, as UConn and USF both exchanged shot attempts in the first 15 minutes of play. The play was physical and the shots were errant, but UConn had a slight advantage in possession time.
At the 16th minute, while fighting for control, Hill was able to get ahold of a ball, tapping it over to teammate Ribeiro, who rolled one into the back of the net to give UConn a 1-0 lead.
“[The energy] was amazing. My entire family was here. It obviously pumped me up,” Ribeiro said. “The crowd definitely helped. I was feeling good, so I was playing my game.”
The game remained relatively quiet for the remainder of the second half until the 35th minute. After spending a majority of the time in USF’s zone, sophomore defender Heidi Druehl tapped a ball right to the feet of Ribeiro, who rolled one past the goalkeeper to give the Huskies a 2-0 advantage. It was Ribeiro’s 15th goal of the season, which put her tied for first in the nation in goals scored.
“When you have two exceptional players, they take care of things,” head coach Len Tsantiris said. “This is not an easy team. We have not won against this team for a while. It’s great, and I think this is confidence for the players.”
USF, for the most part, controlled possession from the onset of the second half. They were able to get multiple clean shots and a few open looks, but they all went wide of the net.
It would again be 15 minutes before the Huskies would strike again. After winning possession midfield, defender Heidi Druehl ran the ball downfield, kicking it off to Ribeiro at the corner of the box. Ribeiro crossed it to Hill on the back post, who headed it in to the corner of the net to give UConn a 3-0 lead.
It was Hill’s 12th goal of the season and 57th of her career, which puts her tied for second on UConn’s all-time goals scored list. She only needs six more to tie the record of 63.
“It means a lot. I can always count on Steph to get a ball in there for me, and she did once again,” Hill said. “[Senior Day] was a lot of fun, I enjoyed every minute of it. I’m happy to have played at UConn.”
In the 71st minute, USF inched a little closer, as freshman forward Gudrun Sigurdardottir launched a ball into the high corner of UConn’s net off a corner kick from freshman midfielder Andrea Hauksdottir to make the score 3-1.
“We changed some players, and sometimes we have to give a chance to the younger kids to develop. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but at least we had a cushion of three goals,” Tsantiris said.
In the end, UConn emerged victorious by a final score of 3-1. The Huskies will embark on a three-game road trip to close out the season, starting with a 1:00 p.m. kickoff at Temple on Saturday, Oct. 22.