It was the perfect afternoon for head coach Len Tsantiris. He earned his 550th win as a head coach, his entire team enjoyed a prosperous offensive day and his demeanor was outwardly joyous.
“Oh really? I didn’t know,” Tsantiris said about his record with a laugh. “What we won is in the past. It’s now. What we do now, that’s what it is.”
The University of Connecticut women’s soccer team (6-2-0) dominated Stony Brook (1-5-2) 4-1 on Sunday afternoon at Morrone Stadium. After a dismal loss to No. 1 Florida state three days earlier, the Huskies were hungry for some goals and a win.
“FSU was a learning curve for us,” redshirt freshman Annika Schmidt, who scored her first collegiate goal in the second half, said. “We brought it into this game with a lot of mentality and a positive attitude coming into this game knowing that we wanted to score and we had to score in order to move forward and past that last game.”
SUPER SHOT PRECISION
The game started off without much luck for both sides. Senior Stephanie Ribeiro took a powerful shot 40 seconds into the game, but it bonked off the crossbar and bounced out of bounds.
Thankfully, the post giveth and the post taketh away. Stony Brook’s first shot of the game also went off the post, sending shockwaves through the Husky squad that the Sea Wolves got just as close to taking an early lead as they did.
Ribeiro made sure that she was going to beat the post. Her two goals in the first half gave UConn the huge offensive boost that they desperately needed. Both her goals were scored in a span of six minutes.
It was a nice change of pace for Ribeiro, whose shots are normally erratic and wide of the net. The increasing precision of her shots will be crucial for the UConn offense going forward, as she leads the team in goals (6) and shots (40).
As a whole, the Huskies took more shots in the first half (12) than they did all of last game (6). They finished the game with 17 total shots, ten of them coming on goal. It was a significant step forward for a team that typically launches a lot of shots, while only scoring one or two per game.
“They got the ball and were able to finish,” Tsantiris said. “This has been a problem some previous games, where we’ve had thirty-something shots and we had one goal. At least they’re getting comfortable around the box.”
CLOSING IN ON HISTORY
Lost in all of the excitement was senior Rachel Hill’s fourth goal of the season, coming at 31’ that gave UConn a 1-0 lead. Her goal not only kickstarted the offensive parade, but it put her 16 goals away from becoming the all-time goals scored leader in UConn history. She currently sits fourth on the list with 49 career goals.
Tsantiris made nine different substitutions in the first half, six in the second half and did not put a single starter in to begin the second half. Of course, that decision proved to work out just fine, as Schmidt scored at 51’ to give UConn a 4-0 lead.
It was the first goal all season that one of the three cornerstone seniors (Hill, Ribeiro, Maddie Damm) did not score.
“Getting my first collegiate goal is pretty special,” Schmidt said. “You just gotta be patient and wait on God’s timing and, you know, it will come.”
The three seniors have accounted for 84 of the Huskies’ 146 shots on the season. Sunday’s match was a perfect opportunity for Tsantiris to explore the future of his team.
“It was a good effort from everybody, bouncing back from Florida State which is a very good team,” Tsantiris said. “We used a lot of players, we rested some of our kids that we have been using too much, so that’s really the best thing for now. The kids did a good job moving the ball and fighting.”