After a 4-2 opening round win against Albany here in Storrs, the UConn women’s soccer team is now in Gainesville, Florida to take on Auburn in the next round of the NCAA Tournament. It will be a clash between Top 25 foes as the Huskies (19-2-1) are ranked No.13 in the NSCAA Coaches’ Poll and the Tigers (15-6) are ranked No. 16.
Despite UConn having a higher ranking in the coaches’ poll as well as RPI, the metric the NCAA uses to evaluate teams, the NCAA awarded the Tigers a higher seed and the Huskies will technically be the “away” team Friday night.
The Huskies have a known recipe for success at this point in the season and it’s the reason why they haven’t lost since Sept. 8. They are anchored by a firm defense, leading the way are All-Conference Performers Senior goalkeeper Emily Armstrong and senior defender Tori Patterson. Patterson, a former Georgia Bulldog, is the only UConn player with experience against Auburn while she was in the SEC. Midfielders Alana Moore, a freshman, and Sabrina Toole, a senior, both contribute as well.
On offense, the Huskies are bolstered by two of the best players in the country.
Redshirt senior forward Stephanie Ribeiro is strong contention for National Player of the Year and has been one of the country’s leading scorers all season long. Rachel Hill, who plays both forward and midfield, is a reigning All-American who has 38 points on 16 goals and six assists and is two goals away from tying UConn’s All-Time scoring record.
The offense has also seen contributions from freshman forward Alexa Casimiro, who has seen a continuously expanding role as the season has gone on. Sophomore Kim Urbanek and Maddie Damm also provide offensive skill in the midfield.
The Tigers may have six losses but it comes from a brutally strong schedule in a tough conference. The Tigers were able to finish second behind only South Carolina in the SEC with a 9-2 conference record.
They faced five ranked opponents on their schedule, versus the Huskies two. They beat Florida, who is the regional host and current No. 9 ranked team, 3-0 in Gainseville this year on Sept. 22. They also beat Arkansas, currently ranked No. 17, 3-2 in a home contest on Oct. 14.
In their other notable games, they fell to current National No. 3 South Carolina 1-0 in a game at Auburn on Sept. 18 and fell to now No. 12 Clemson 2-0 in Auburn back in August. They also fell to USC, current National No. 7, 2-0 at home in the beginning of the September. USC the number two seed in their region of the NCAA tournament.
Prior to the NCAA tournament they were defeated by Arkansas in the conference tournament semifinals 3-1.
The Tigers opened the NCAA tournament with a 4-0 drubbing of South Alabama, a small but strong program who they beat 1-0 in double-overtime during the regular season. Senior midfielder Brooke Ramsier had two goals while her twin sister Casie Ramsier chipped in one and redshirt midfielder Haley Gerken scored once.
The Ramsier twins in the midfield will something UConn has to look out for. Casie Ramsier has 28 points this season on 12 goals and four assists. Her sister Brook is more of a set-up man, with 23 points on six goals and 11 assists.
Kristen Dodson, a junior forward who had two assists in the Tigers opening round win, might be the player the Huskies have to watch for the most. She has 32 points, coming on 11 goals and 10 assists.
Sarah Le Beau, a redshirt sophomore, mans the cage for the Tigers. She sports a 1.10 goals allowed average and .720 save percentage.
Dodson, Casie Ramsier, and senior defender Kiana Clarke were all named First-Team All-Conference. Brooke Ramsier was named to the Second Team.
The game will be an early 2 p.m. kickoff and should the Huskies win, they will face the winner of Florida, the region’s No. 1 seed and host, and the Wisconsin Badgers. That game would take place on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Matt Barresi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.