It is a new season for UConn women’s soccer. And this season in particular brings with it lots of changes.
Margaret Rodriguez was named head coach for the team in January. Rodriguez took over the role from longtime head coach Len Tsantiris after she spent ten years under him as an associate head coach. Rodriguez played for the Huskies from 1995-1998, and she sits tied for fourth overall on the all-time points list for UConn with 128 on 43 goals and 42 assists. She went on to play professionally for three years before becoming an assistant coach for the University of Hartford, where she was named to the 2006 America East Coaching Staff of the Year.
Last season UConn placed fifth in the conference with a 5-4 record. Overall, the team was 7-9-3. In this season’s preseason coaches poll the Huskies were picked to finish sixth in the AAC.
Senior Vivien Bell was the sole UConn player tabbed to the Preseason AAC All-Conference Team. Last season, in her first season with the Huskies, Bell led the team in goals (6), points (18), and shots (48).
The Huskies dominated in their two exhibition games against Sacred Heart and New Hampshire, scoring seven total goals while allowing only one.
The team’s actual season began on Friday, August 17th, when UConn lost to Northeastern 2-0 up at Parsons Field after a one hour and four minute thunderstorm delay.
This was the first career start for four UConn players, redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Randi Palacios, freshman defender Aline Christen, freshman forward Isabelle Lynch and freshman forward Pato Jerzak.
Northeastern significantly outshot UConn 17-9 on the night, with nine and four being on goal respectively. Northeastern was awarded five corners, while UConn only had one. Isabelle Lynch led the team with two shots, one of which was on goal.
Randi Placios had an eventful night, making seven saves, including one in the 24th minute diving to make the save at the top of the block. Then in the 28th minute, she made a nice kick save and then moments later caught the second shot attempt.
Northeastern scored their first goal in the 42nd minute after UConn turned the ball over around midfield, and scored again in the 71st minute, this time off a corner. UConn on the other hand didn’t even have many scoring opportunities, their best one coming in the 89th minute when sophomore Melina Cruz was just a bit too high with her shot, hitting the crossbar.
UConn had their first home game just three days later, dropping it to Syracuse 2-1. The Orange took an early lead scoring in the 8th minute, but the Huskies came right back with their own in the 10th. Sophia Danyo-Kulchycky, a sophomore, scored the first goal of her collegiate career when she manufactured an open net by crossing up the Syracuse goalie. The game remained tied until the 64th minute when Syracuse was finally able to capitalize on an opportunity, scoring on a header.
The Huskies were outshot by a good margin for the second straight game, with Syracuse taking 18 (nine on target) to UConn’s 11 (three on target). Both UConn and Syracuse generated the same number of corners, five. UConn was also called for three offsides, while Syracuse was not called for a single one.
One facet of the game where UConn outperformed Syracuse was in penalties, as they were only whistled for two on the night. Meanwhile, Syracuse racked up a whopping eight.
The next game for the Huskies will take place on Thursday, August 23rd at 7 p.m. at home against Central Connecticut State.