Women’s soccer: Ribeiro, Hill dominate as No. 21 Huskies beat Memphis 4-1

On a cloudy and mild day at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium, the UConn women’s soccer team proved that when it rains, it pours as they downed Memphis 4-1 in their second conference game in three days.

Senior Stephanie Ribeiro brought the thunder with her second straight two-goal game. Ribeiro now has 12 goals on the season, which puts her tied for top goal-scorer in the nation.

“I’m just working as hard as I can to get as many goals as I can,” Ribeiro said. “We’ve been focusing a lot on shooting and stuff in practice so it’s just being ready during the game.”

The game was extremely physical throughout the first half. The Memphis defense was extremely tight and the Husky offense had a tough time finding any holes like they did last game against Tulsa. Even so, UConn’s defense matched the Tigers’ performance as they prevented Memphis from taking a shot for 27 minutes.

UConn’s offense, on the other hand, broke through the barrier about 20 minutes into the match. Although play remained physical, the Huskies were able to get a few shots and corner kicks before opening the floodgates.

“[Memphis is] good with the ball,” head coach Len Tsantiris said. “Us pressuring them and chasing them down, they don’t like that. We were able to have turnovers, especially on the attack. And in turn, we capitalized.”

After fighting for possession at midfield, senior Maddie Damm got hold of a ball and sent it downfield, right into the lap of Rachel Hill. Hill sent a laser of a ground shot into the corner of the net to put the Huskies on top 1-0.

UConn would not stop there. Just two minutes later, Ribeiro had several opportunities in front of the Memphis net. After firing a shot that bounced off a Tiger defender, Ribeiro played it and launched the ball into the far corner of the goal, quickly expanding the Huskies’ lead to 2-0.

Ribeiro was not done, however. On a short pass from Hill on the right edge of the box, she beat a Memphis defender to the ball and, while sliding, bounced the ball off the top of the crossbar and into the net. With her second goal of the game and Hill’s first assist, the Huskies found themselves up 3-0 as the first half came to a close.

“[Rachel and I] have been playing together for four years, we’ve definitely got time to learn how to play together. We have really good chemistry,” Ribeiro said.

Memphis opened the second half with a vengeance. Just three minutes in, the Tigers scored off a free kick as the ball sailed past defenders and slipped right under the hands of goalkeeper Emily Armstrong to make the score 3-1.

Memphis would control possession for most of the subsequent minutes, not garnering many shots but keeping the ball on UConn’s side of the field. Armstrong made a few quality saves and the defense buckled down to prevent the Tigers from making the game any closer.

“You get down one, two, three nothing, that’s a tough mountain to climb for the other team playing away. They’re a good team, they came back in the second half and fought,” Tsantiris said. “Other than [their one goal], we covered very well in the back and cleared the ball.”

Hill tacked on one more goal with five minutes left to play on an assist from Ribeiro, her eighth of the year, sealing UConn’s 10th win of the season.

“[Memphis is] a good team. They were above us in the rankings, so it’s a good win,” Tsantiris said.

Once again, Hill and Ribeiro dominated the offense, with each contributing two goals and at least one assist. The Huskies ended the week with two solid conference wins going into a crucial game at SMU this Thursday.  

Stephanie Sheehan is the associate managing editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at stephanie.sheehan@uconn.edu. She tweets @steph_sheehan.