Led by Stephanie Ribeiro and Rachel Hill the UConn women's soccer team reaches the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. The Huskies defeated Albany 4-2, in a match that the Huskies controlled throughout.
“We went in and scored quick goals and got pressure,” said head coach Len Tsantiris. “We could have had more goals, but we won the game and that’s the main thing and the kids responded. We won, we scored goals and we didn’t give them many opportunities.”
With the win the Huskies advance to the next round and will take on Auburn in Gainesville, Florida.
The Huskies got off to an early lead through an Alexa Casimiro goal in the fourth minute of play. Rachel Hill played the ball into the box and after a series of failed clearances by the Great Danes.
UConn came right back five minutes later for their second score. Ribeiro got her 21st tally of the year on the play.
Much of the first half was played in Albany’s half as the Huskies threatened throughout. Tsantiris was wary though as 2-0 is commonly known as “the most dangerous score” in soccer.
Against the run of play Albany scored a goal of their own bringing the score to 2-1 with two minutes left in the half. The goal was scored by Mariah Williams. Williams came in as a sub for the Great Danes and was able to make an immediate impact.
“We put the foot off the pedal for awhile and then they got in the game. We responded well after we talked at halftime. The second half was definitely ours,” Tsantiris said.
Five minutes into the second half Hill scored after a long throw by Liane Keegans was flicked on by Ribeiro.
The Huskies threatened Chloe Borasky’s net again 20 minutes into the second half. Hill crossed the ball into box and Maddie Damm was able to get a foot to it before colliding with Borasky who was able to make the save.
With 20 minutes left in the half UConn had a barrage of shots that were cleared off the line by Albany as they were fighting to keep their season alive.
In the 35th minute Damm scored a stunner. The senior was able to beat three defenders before hitting a shot to the far corner of the goal.
“It was amazing especially after missing a couple earlier in the game I needed one. Especially being my last game in this stadium, it was awesome,” said Damm.
With two minutes left in the match Albany scored their second goal of the game The goal was once again scored by Williams, who sent a cross into the box that flew over the head of Emily Armstrong.
“The goal they got was nothing really,” Tsantiris said. “It was a cross that happened to go in but those things happen. That is the game we are in.”
Tsantiris and his team are moving round by round. Last season, the Huskies were bounced out of the NCAA tournament by Rutgers.
“Going in everybody now is going to be the cream of the crop, especially after the first round. It is going to be tough as we go one step at a time it is going to get harder and harder,” Tsantiris said.
Antonio Salazar is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org