Fresh off an American Athletic Conference Championship on Nov. 6, the UConn women’s soccer team will open up NCAA Tournament play with a home game against the visiting Albany Great Danes. The Great Danes (11-7-1) got here by defeating Hartford 2-1 for their second straight America East Conference Championship. The Huskies (18-2-1) are also an automatic qualifier and recently shot up to No. 13 in the NSCAA Coaches Poll.
The two share a pair of common opponents. Albany played an exhibition against Fordham on Aug. 12. The Huskies beat Fordham 4-1 in a home game on Sept. 22. The Great Danes also took on Stony Brook during conference play, defeating them 4-0. The Huskies knocked off Stony Brook on Sept. 11 by a score of 4-1.
The Great Danes carry a balanced attack on offense. Redshirt junior midfielder Kiana Rugar, a Connecticut native, leads the way with 15 points on six goals and three assists. Megan Cavanaugh, a freshman midfielder, and Alexa Schneider, a senior forward, are close behind with 12 points each on four goals and four assists.
In net, redshirt freshman Chloe Borasky has gotten the majority of the starts, with a .85 goals allowed average and a .838 save percentage.
Cavanaugh was named Co-Rookie of the year in the America East. Senior midfielder Caitlyn Paltsios was named First Team All-Conference and junior forward Vivian Vega, along with Cavanaugh, Rugar, and Schneider, was named to the Second Team.
The Huskies will counter with their proven formula of a strong defensive effort while forwards Stephanie Ribeiro and Rachel Hill dominate up top. Hill has been used in more of midfielder role recently with freshman Alexa Casamiro starting up top but it hasn’t slowed her production.
She has 35 points from 15 goals and five assists this year and is closing in on the program’s all-time scoring record. She needs three more goals to tie the record.
Ribeiro is chasing a record of her own, UConn’s single season scoring record, after being one of the best offensive players in the country all season long. She has 52 points from 20 goals and 12 assists this year.
In the back end, the Huskies will count on American Defender of the Year Tori Patterson and American Goalie of the Year Emily Armstrong to remain stalwarts. The UConn defense will also get freshman Kristin Vinciguerra back after she served a one-game suspension for getting a red card in their conference tournament semi-final victory against USF.
The winner will take on the winner of the game between South Alabama and Auburn, whichwill take place at 12 p.m. central time on Saturday.
The game is slated for a 6 p.m. kickoff on Saturday night at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium.
Matt Barresi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.