Last season UConn women’s soccer was an American conference juggernaut, going undefeated in conference play, which culminated in their dominant sweep in the conference tournament which they hosted.
This season was not the same. They finished fifth (5-4) and after their 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Memphis Tigers, UConn has been eliminated from the conference tournament.
The Tigers (10-5-3) have had a potent offense all season long and it was on display Thursday night.
Memphis struck first less than 10 minutes into the action. Clearing the ball, the Memphis defense sent a long ball up the far side where junior forward Elizabeth Woerner beat sophomore Sofia Leone to the ball deep in the box. She made a tidy pass to the center where sophomore Mickayla Morton used her right leg to one-time a shot past senior goalie Courtney Hofer.
The Tigers kept the pressure on for most of the first half, outshooting the Huskies 11-7. UConn generated some pressure towards the end of the first half, including a bid from junior Kim Urbanek.
Similar to the first half the Tigers struck fairly quickly in the second. Junior forward Vivien Beil and freshman forward Yamilee Eveillard each put on two shots in the early going, including a long ball requiring a leaping save, before the Tigers pounced again.
At the 53-minute mark Memphis earned a corner kick taken by Jessica Lisi. Her ball was turned into an initial save by Hofer on a Morton header, but Woerner buried the secondary shot on an assist from Catherine Levasseur, her 11th of the season.
Just over a minute later UConn put the final nails in their coffin, committing a foul in the box, giving Memphis a penalty shot which Morton buried with a hard shot on the ground to the near side after Hofer initially jumped in the opposite direction.
The Huskies didn’t give up, showing life by creating numerous scoring chances the rest of the game.
One of them, unsurprisingly from a red-hot Beil, resulted in a goal on a far-out free kick after a Memphis foul. She curved a long shot that hit the hands of goalie Elizabeth Moberg, but Morberg couldn’t handle it and it ricocheted into the top of the nets.
It was her sixth goal of the season, putting her in the team lead.
Still, the three goals proved to be insurmountable for a young group that lacked offensive potency and was 0-6 in games they trailed at halftime this year.
The Huskies fought closely. Final shots were 18-17 Memphis, with eight apiece on goal. The Huskies had 10 corners to Memphis’ six but also 10 fouls to Memphis’ two.
Returning from Orlando disappointed and with no more games to play, the team finished 7-9-3 but with 21 freshman and sophomores there is a path to a bright future.
Matt Barresi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.