The UConn women’s soccer team is coming off arguably their most complete performance yet, a solid 2-1 victory over ECU on Sunday. After a four-game homestand, the Huskies (3-5-3) now hit the road for a pair of games, the first of which is against Tulsa on Thursday.
Tulsa (3-9-2) enters in eighth place in the American Athletic Conference, ahead of SMU and ECU, and only one spot behind the Huskies. The Hurricanes are 1-3 in conference play, with a win over SMU in their conference opener. Tulsa comes in on a two-game losing streak, although both losses came against some of the conference’s best with USF and No. 13 ranked UCF.
Despite Tulsa’s position in conference standings, they are statistically the weakest team in the American. With a conference-leading nine losses, the Hurricanes’ total winning percentage thus far sits at .286, with the next-closest team being UConn’s .409 mark.
The numbers don’t get much better. Tulsa has the lowest goals per game in the conference at just 1.08 and have allowed more goals than any other team at 2.54 goals per game. The next closest is Memphis at 1.77, while the Huskies have averaged 1.27 goals allowed.
That said, for a UConn team that has consistently struggled to score goals, the Hurricanes are far from an automatic victory.
“There are no easy games,” head coach Len Tsantiris said after Sunday’s game.
Tsantiris has also been critical of the Huskies’ tendency to have sloppy breakdowns on defense, mainly due to poor communication. The squad’s communication, however, has drastically improved since the appearance of senior goalkeeper Courtney Hofer.
Tulsa is led in nearly every category by senior midfielder Rachel Thun-Blankenship, who leads the team in goals scored (3), assists (4), shots on goal (12) and points (10). The Hurricanes also have some promising young talent, especially in freshman forward Addyson Guthrie, who was named the American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week two weeks ago.
In goal, the Hurricanes have split duties, but the Huskies will likely face senior Courtney McKeon, who has 80 saves and 26 goals allowed in nine starts.
Hofer has been a gamechanger for UConn, but overall the Huskies bring a more balanced approach to Oklahoma. Kess Elmore and Vivien Beil continue to lead the attack, while Liane Keegans and Heidi Druehl are the mainstays on the back line.
A victory for the Huskies could catapult them to as high as fourth place in the conference standings. They’ll go for their second straight win on Thursday at 8 p.m. in Tulsa.