The UConn women’s soccer team keeps growing in confidence after defeating conference rival East Carolina 2-1 yesterday afternoon.
“They are young, they are on and off,” said head coach Len Tsantiris after the game. “They are trying to find their way and we’re working with them.”
With 11 freshmen and nine sophomores, the team is learning every day what it is like to play collegiate soccer.
It’s been a journey for this team, which started its season with three losses and has slowly built itself back up. Senior transfer Courtney Hofer is a key player in the team’s renaissance. Hofer’s leadership from goal has helped her younger teammates. Hofer gives the team an injection of confidence and leadership. The Huskies have played better with Hofer in goal.
On Thursday, they lost 1-0 against Cincinnati, a game they could have won and perhaps should have won. On Sunday however, the Huskies took another step in the right direction.
“When [Hofer] came into the game, the shape of the defense was better, the communication was better,” said senior midfielder Sabrina Tool. “We had finally a voice, I can hear her when I’m in the midfield.”
Toole scored the second goal of the game and ran across the field to celebrate with Hofer, a sign of the great friendship they have off the field, which translates well on the field.
On the second goal, Toole said her teammates’ hard work during the buildup made her job easier.
“[The goal] relieved a lot of pressure off of us,” said Toole. “We didn’t have to kick long balls every time, we could play to the feet,” “We controlled the ball in the second half because we had that confidence.”
Another one of the talented young Huskies making an impact is Sofia Leone. The sophomore shined brightly Sunday afternoon. She dictated the pace of the game, pressured the opponent and stole many balls in the midfield.
Last year, the team depended heavily on their veteran star players, Stephanie Ribeiro and Rachel Hill. As the leaders of the team, they took over when it was most needed. Without them, the team lost part of its heart and soul. But now, Leone and company will be taking over as the new heartbeat of the team.
“We use a lot of players, but we maintain the chemistry. We don’t have one star player, we have a bunch of star players,” Toole said.
The Huskies will look to build on their momentum and continue to develop that chemistry Thursday night on the road against Tulsa.
Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.