Much like their 1-0 victory over Pacific on Friday, the opportunity was there for the UConn women’s soccer team to win much more convincingly against a winless team, but their inability to finish would come back to haunt them. However, the Huskies held on to defeat in-state foe Central Connecticut 2-1 Sunday at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium Sunday. Despite the one goal margin, it was a dominant performance by the Huskies.
The Huskies struck quickly, as Stephanie Ribeiro pushed forward a nice through ball to Rachel Hill who would beat the keeper far side for her third goal of the season just five minutes in.
Even with the lead, the Huskies didn’t let up, forcing corner after corner and controlling play without allowing much of a counterattack. Ribeiro and Hill would each put shots on about 17 minutes in but came up empty handed.
Starting around the 28th minute, the Huskies would start an offensive barrage that would last the rest of the half. Ribeiro drew a foul not far outside the box and midfielder Maddie Damm would put a hard shot on net with the free kick, but it was turned away and a follow up chance by Faith McCarthy went high.
Keeping the ball in the Blue Devils half, UConn would earn several corner kicks but went into the half with just a 1-0 lead.
Coming into the second half, CCSU would switch goaltenders as Nicki Turley replaced Ashley Cavanaugh. Central would make the first move of the half as Alex Zampini put a shot on in the 47th minute but senior keeper Emily Armstrong turned it away for one of her two saves on the day.
Shortly after the Huskies would strike again. After putting a shot on minutes earlier, Tanya Altrui would put a low cross into the box and Ribeiro was able to get her foot on it, pushing in the second goal of the game and her fourth on the season.
UConn would generate several more chances but couldn’t capitalize. In the 70th minute, sophomore Kim Urbanek put a high cross into the middle, but a leaping Ribeiro would get nothing but hand on the ball, earning her a yellow card.
Around the 70th minute Coach Len Tsantiris would begin the process of going deeper into the bench and resting some of the regulars. UConn would continue to keep the pressure on. Damm would put two rocket shots on net, the second one drawing another UConn corner kick.
The Blue Devils, in a rare moment of being on the attack in the second half, would surprise the Huskies as Charlotte Maurer hit a long shot from outside the box to the left and Armstrong couldn’t recover in time.
“We didn’t expect it. To push up and pressure it… We were too slow on the other side, one of our attacking midfielders should have shut that down,” Tsantiris said of Maurer’s goal.
Despite another one goal victory, UConn’s offense was even more dominant than the Pacific game, outshooting the Blue Devils 24-3.
“It was kind of the same (as Pacific). It was good we got another goal but it was kind of the same game. We created opportunities well, we could’ve had another, maybe two more goals but the effort was good,” Tsantiris said.
Stephanie Ribeiro was the main catalyst for the UConn offense, with six shots to go with her goal and assist on the day. She was all over the field and used to her skill on the ball to generate several offensive rushes. Hill had four shots of her own including one on a through ball from Urbanek where she found herself with an open shot but in tight space. Damm had four shots and Altrui had three, as well as her assist and moving the ball up the sidelines.
“We did a lot better. We moved the ball more. We found each others’ feet. There was a lot more movement,” Ribeiro said, talking about improvement in the game versus Friday’s win against Pacific.
The Huskies will take on No. 1 Florida State in Tallahassee on Thursday. The game will also be Tsantirs’ first crack at win number 500.
“That will be interesting,” Tsantiris said.
Matt Barresi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.