Another game, another overtime. It’s becoming routine for the UConn women’s soccer team at this point. Thursday night at Morrone Stadium, in similar fashion to their match from one week prior, the Huskies would have to scrap against a quality opponent. Unlike the last time, UConn wouldn’t come out on top.
The 3-2 loss to Long Beach State (5-2-1) in overtime is the Huskies’ (2-4-2) third consecutive game to do so, and fourth on the season.
It began as a game of back and forth between two evenly matched foes. During the feeling out process, a moment of fear came six minutes in when redshirt Molly Kerrigan showed her inexperience, badly misplaying a ball in the box that led to a loose ball and goalie well out of position. No 49ers were in the vicinity to capitalize, and Kerrigan wouldn’t settle in for the rest of the game.
Long Beach State would score first in a rather nonchalant manner. Attempting to turn back a 49ers advance, the Huskies defense botched the ball and it squirted free to the far corner of the box. Kerrigan made a charge, allowing fresh forward Kayla Cannon to push it past her with the right foot. Junior midfielder Dana Fujikuni was credited with the assist.
UConn would make some advances of their own immediately after, drawing a Long Beach foul on the near side at one point, but the free kick didn’t find anyone. Junior defender Elena Santos also blasted a shot high from far out on the near side.
UConn had a moderate chance on a corner kick 25 minutes in. After Heidi Druehl fought for possession down in the near corner, Vivien Beil would take the corner, finding the head of Kristin Vinciguerra, but a true shot was not had. Vinciguerra nearly recaptured possession after a sloppy clear from Long Beach goalie Mia Hummel, but the 49ers broke free from danger for the time being.
It wouldn’t last.
UConn would even the score up shortly after. After a 49ers foul on the far side near midfield, UConn began an offensive front that led to skilled freshman Kess Elmore sliding an acute pass from outside the box in the middle of the field to a streaking Yamilee Eveillard. The freshman would strike in her first career goal, beating Hummel to the left.
Long Beach came back for their lead however, with only five minutes remaining in the half. They earned a majority of the pressure as the half winded down.
Finally, a cross from sophomore Chloe Froment was poorly played by Druehl, who never left her feet to really meet it, allowing freshman Rola Badawiya to gain possession deep in the UConn box. Kerrigan never had much of a chance as Badawiya was in too prime of a position to do anything other than score the 49ers second goal of the game.
Two 49ers goals, but more importantly, two poor miscues from the UConn defense.
Long Beach generated offense quickly into the second half, including a shot deflected by Kerrigan, producing a juicy rebound. The follow-up shot would be deflected by the UConn defense and the Huskies left unscathed.
Unlike Long Beach, the Huskies would produce on their first chance of the half. Biel, a junior transfer from Maine who has been having a productive offensive season, finally found her first goal in a UConn uniform.
With possession down on the nearside corner, Biel had a 49er defender in isolation, and plain and simple, just beat her with the dribble. Coming into the box at a horizontal angle but unchecked, she confidently hit a shot past a hopeless Hummel to knot the game at two.
UConn had another good opportunity with 31 minutes remaining. Eveillard, went down the far side, but a cross hit Elmore’s left foot in the dead center of the box and she couldn’t possess. Still, the ball was loose and senior Tanya Altrui grabbed it right before it went out of bounds, ripping a shot with a terrible angle that hit a Long Beach defender and back off Altrui, preventing what seemed to be an imminent corner kick.
Long Beach State grabbed a breakaway with about 28 minutes left after a failed offsides trap maneuver by Vinciguerra, but Kerrigan came out of the box, making a sliding save to disrupt things.
The Huskies would earn three corner kicks in the next 10 minutes, generating header chances from freshman defender Page Liebel and Altrui that would miss high.
With 14 minutes left, Sabrina Toole, one of the team's few seniors, would commit a costly foul, giving Long Beach State a prime free kick right outside the box in the center of the field.
Going against a wall of five UConn defenders, senior Jessica Vincent would miss high and slightly to the left.
With four minutes left, and Long Beach generating most of the pressure in what had devolved into a physical contest, the 49ers appeared to have struck gold. The 49ers scored on a cross but it was waved off after an offsides call.
Keeping the pressure on after a 49ers corner, a deep shot was deflected by the UConn defender, but it was off her hand, earning Long Beach a free kick on the precipice of the 18’. The shot from the 18’ couldn’t have been further than 19’ and would go off the UConn wall of six for a corner kick, on which Kerrigan had to punch away another chance.
The game would eventually proceed to overtime and eventually, a second one.
UConn would start with the ball and Elmore put a soft shot on from far out quickly into the first overtime but quality possession eluded the Huskies, as it did down the stretch of the second half.
Neither team generated any of note, which brought things to a second overtime. It was reminiscent of how the game itself went, with Long Beach getting all the chances.
In golden goal, all it takes is one. Senior Allie Emmons took a corner kick and Kerrigan didn’t come enough to make a real defense, as sophomore Kaitlin Fregulia scored the game winner.
The UConn offense struggled, despite only being outshot 14-12.
“They’re a good team. We’re just young...It’s good that we got two goals but the thing is we have to work,” said head coach Len Tsantiris.
Up next for UConn will be their final non-conference game of the stadium as they host Colorado College Sunday at Morrone Stadium. The Tigers (3-3) will be coming off a Friday contest at Yale. They won their past two games and took No. 25 Colorado to overtime earlier this season.
Junior midfielder Lauren Milliet leads them with three goals and an assist, supplemented by junior forward Clara Richter with two goals and two assists in only five games. In net, freshman Jade Odom has made five starts, allowing five goals and making 19 saves with a .792 save percentage.
The game starts at noon.
Matt Barresi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.