Shot after shot soared over the bar for the UConn women’s soccer team as they could not control the nerves in their loss to Providence College on Thursday.
The season opener was decided on a controversial handball and penalty conversion by Providence’s Christina Rodgers in the 42nd minute of the matchup between the Huskies and Friars. The goal put the Friars up by 2-0 at that point as it came just minutes after Hannah McNulty slotted home a slick passing move from Providence past UConn ‘keeper Randi Palacios.
UConn had gotten off to a great start, controlling possession for much of the first half, but could not keep the shots down on their many chances. They registered just one shot on target in the first half, an attempt from Alana Moore that was easily handled by Providence’s goalie Shelby Hogan.
After surrendering the two goals in the first half, UConn was able to get back on the horse early in the second as they gobbled up possession again and again. In the 59th minute, redshirt sophomore Kess Elmore sprinted down the left flank on a counterattack before cutting in and scoring. Elmore dribbled through the defense as Jessica Mazo made a distracting run to her left and gave UConn hope with a controlled strike to put the game 2-1.
The game would finish at this score despite the constant pressure from UConn. The intense pressure may have been their downfall late in the game as their midfield seemed to tire once the clock hit the 80th minute.
UConn’s lack of precision with their long passes was another alarming development throughout the game, as they just could not seem to place them well enough which cancelled out scoring chances. They also had trouble with the weight of their passes, often playing them too heavily for their players to catch up to.
If UConn is to improve upon their 4-14 record from last season, they will need to address these issues.
Woes aside, the game was exciting from start to finish. UConn women’s soccer fans got a glimpse into the future of the squad with the debuts of Mazo, Duda Santin, Emma Zaccagnini, Jackie Harnett, Cara Jordan and Claire Middlebrook.
In our first look at Santin, she delivered on the hype with flashes of skill and well-placed passes in attacking areas. She also did not seem afraid to chase after balls to initiate attacks, something the team as a whole does well.
The National High School Player of the Year for women’s soccer last season, Mazo, showed flashes here and there but also seemed to be a bit antsy on the ball. She took four shots, tied for the most shots of any UConn starter alongside Santin, but put just one on target. She put a couple over the bar, one wide left in the early stages of the game and shot one right at the keeper at the near post in the final minutes.
The lack of shots on goal was not for lack of chances as UConn led the shot competition 21 to 12 but placed just five on target. They also had more corners, but often played them substantially over the hoard of players in the box.
There is a lot of room for improvement for the Huskies in their coming games. They need to be more patient on the ball and take better care of their passing. However, there were some bright spots. Should they tidy up their play, they will be just fine.
UConn will make their home debut against Fairfield University on Sunday at 6 p.m. at University of Hartford’s Al-Marzook Field at Alumni Stadium.
Mike Mavredakis is a campus correspondent for the Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com