After losing to Rutgers in the Sweet 16 last season, the UConn women’s soccer team returns stronger than ever with their sights set on the College Cup.
The Huskies (2-0) have already started their season with a bang, recording back-to-back 1-0 victories against Northeastern and Boston University.
Unsurprisingly, both goals were scored by redshirt senior Stephanie Ribeiro, who is going into the season as one of two players expected to lead the team in goals along with senior Rachel Hill.
Hill was a first-team All American last season, and could very well break UConn’s all-time scoring record this season. Ribeiro was a third-team All American last season and will most likely trail Hill in goals scored, but if her last three seasons at UConn are any indication, she should lead the team in assists.
In goal will be senior Emily Armstrong, who was the American Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year last season with a stellar 0.94 goals against average and a .794 save percentage. She only allowed two goals at home as she helped her team accomplish a perfect 10-0 home record last season.
In the NCAA preseason coaches’ poll, UConn was ranked No. 15. They are the unanimous favorite to win the conference, and given the strength of their schedule, should go into the tournament with a good seed if all expectations are met.
Last season, the Huskies finished with 16 regular season wins and only two losses. This season, it is reasonable to expect that they will finish 17-2. Their toughest matchup is far and away No. 1 Florida State, whom they play only seven games into the season. Their second toughest opponent will be No. 10 Rutgers, who defeated UConn in the third round of the tournament last season before losing to eventual champion Penn State in the semifinals.
In conference, USF and UCF should both prove to be formidable foes. USF handed the Huskies their only American loss last season, a 1-0 shutout. If UConn meets expectations, they should go undefeated in conference play.
All in all, this season could prove to be a historic one for the Huskies, but only if expectations are met. Hill, Ribeiro and Armstrong were all voted to the preseason All-Conference team, and if the Husky defense can keep up the stellar performance they have displayed so far (holding opponents to just 16 shots through two games), the 2016 UConn women’s soccer team has the potential to be the first to bring the Women’s College Cup to Storrs.