In front of a reported crowd of 621, UConn women’s soccer played not only their first game of the conference portion of their schedule, but their first game of the 2017 season with senior transfer Courtney Hofer in goal.
It was a 1-0 loss, but head coach Len Tsantiris knows Hofer brings a lot to the table and she is in net to stay.
“Maturity. Experience. Composure. She’s a leader… we need someone like that,” Tsantiris said.
Hofer, who arrived in Storrs in the spring of 2017, is a transfer from TCU. Hofer appeared in 12 games last season for the Horned Frogs, starting 11 and producing a 4-1 record.
She had a 0.64 goals-allowed-average and made 18 saves on the season.
The year prior she played in seven games and started two games in 2014.
Hofer, a Nutmegger and Farmington native, played at Farmington High School. In addition, she played club soccer for the Burlington based SoccerPlus Elite program. Hofer finished high school early in order to enroll at TCU early.
“It’s awesome to be back home,” Hofer said. “I was 1700 miles away the last three years, my high school basketball coach who was a mentor and someone very important to me was in the crowd tonight."
She missed the first nine games of the 2017 season for medical reasons, being withheld due to problems with hazy vision. She tested negative for a concussion and, after a process that took longer than she would have liked, she is back in action.
“I’ve been playing this game forever and I don’t have much time left,” said Hofer. “It was hard to sit there and it was very frustrating because there were times where I didn’t know if I would ever be out there on the field ever again.”
Redshirt freshman Mollie Kerrigan had been spotting her in net the first nine games, going 2-4-3, allowing 12 goals, good for 1.21 goals allowed average, and making 36 saves for a .750 save percentage.
Kerrigan’s inexperience showed several times and her deficiencies hurt UConn a couple of times, but the challenge of replacing 2016 American conference goalie of the year Emily Armstrong, who played every minute of every game for the Huskies last season and produced an impressive .86 goals allowed average and 11 shutouts, was a lot to ask.
It’s Hofer’s challenge now and she got off to a reputable start Thursday night, showing her savviness and making a couple big saves in the second half.
The loan goal for the Bearcats came in a wonky fashion, as a deep shot from Cincinnati’s Katy Couperus hit the crossbar just over the hand of a leaping Hofer, bounced straight down and out to the feet of an unchecked Jill Vetere.
Hofer scrambled to get up and in position but couldn’t recover as Vetere put a shot past with ease.
She only made two saves on the night, but was far more involved and will be vital going forward in any of UConn’s potential successes.
“It was fun. I’ve been playing this game forever, it was just exciting to be back out there,” Hofer said. “It’s been a lot of hard work these past five months. I’m just very grateful for the medical staff for treating me and figuring out what was wrong, and getting me back out on the field.”
Gold laces return
For at least the second consecutive year, UConn wore gold laces to utilize their platform to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer in conjunction with the organization Go4TheGoal.
As part of their Lace Up 4 Pediatric Cancer campaign, the team buys laces from the organization for five dollars a set, four dollars of which, as well as 100% of donation, are donated to pediatric cancer organizations in the state of the participating party.
The campaign started in 2011 and more info can be found at http://www.go4thegoal.org/.
Matt Barresi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.