Coming off a 2-0 victory over Cincinnati, the UConn women’s soccer team traveled to Greenville, South Carolina on Sunday to take on East Carolina. A victory over the Pirates (5-12-1) would help the Huskies (16-2-1) finish undefeated in American Athletic Conference play and also guarantee a Regular Season Conference Championship and home field through the postseason tournament.
It would not come easy for the Huskies, as ECU was pressuring from the get go. The Pirates had a shot six minutes in and came back at the 10 minute mark for the first goal of the contest. A tip save by Emily Armstrong over the net led to opportunity for the Pirates.
The goal started off a corner kick taken by senior forward Lana Spitler, who made a touch pass to senior midfielder Kelsey Reeves, crossing the ball to junior midfielder Annah Lindberg who would bury it for her fourth of the season.
The Pirates stayed on the attack as Spitler had a shot in the 17th minute but Armstrong made the save. Then the Pirates put one past again in the 20th minute for a 2-0 lead, but an off sides call bailed the Huskies out.
It was after the Huskies began to turn the tide. A couple minutes after ECU’s no-goal, UConn would get one of their own. With UConn on the attack, sophomore midfielder Kim Urbanek would make a pass across the top of the box to redshirt senior forward Stephanie Ribeiro who beat ECU keeper Caroline Jeffers to the right side.
The goal was good for Ribeiro’s 18th on the season and her 47th point as she continues to pace the country in scoring. It was also Urbanek’s third assist of the season.
UConn kept on the attack as Ribeiro and fellow standout forward Rachel Hill each had chances but failed to score. The teams went into the half tied 1-1 on the scoreboard and 6-6 on the shot chart.
Ribeiro opened up the second half firing. In the 52nd minute she put a shot off the post and then buried the rebound, but an off sides call negated the goal. In the 57th minute she put another shot on, but Jeffers made the save.
Sophomore defender Jen Balzan got in the action as well for UConn, putting on a great shot in the 62nd minute that seemed to be heading toward the Huskies’ second goal of the game, but it was turned away by the Pirates’ defense.
After Balzan’s effort, ECU would swing things back their way with four shots of their own, including two in which Armstrong would make saves on, including a huge one off a corner kick in the 70th minute.
As the game moved on, UConn would hold some pressure, creating two corner kicks but no real chances. Then, the Huskies would pick up a pair of fouls, including one that led to a yellow card issued to senior defender Tori Patterson.
A tight game trending toward overtime was quickly becoming the narrative, before Ribeiro changed it in an instant. In the 87th minute she put a shot on, collected the rebound and neatly placed it in the back of the net for the go-ahead goal. It was her 19th of the year and her 49th point.
It was too late for ECU at that point in the game, as the story of the season for UConn prevailed again; Ribeiro’s offensive efforts led the Huskies to victory.
The 2-1 locked up first place in the conference and an undefeated record in conference play for the Huskies, who have not lost since September 8th at the National No. 1 Florida State. All signs point to the Huskies opening conference tournament play at Morrone Stadium on Wednesday, Nov. 2nd.
Matt Barresi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.