While students were still getting settled into their new housing back in Storrs, the UConn women’s soccer team took care of business in their temporary housing in Hartford, handing the visiting Fairfield Stags a 3-0 loss Sunday night.
Kess Elmore made her presence felt throughout the game at the University of Hartford’s Al-Marzook Field, the backdrop for UConn’s “home” opener. After missing all of last season with a torn ACL, the redshirt sophomore from Liverpool notched her second goal of the season at 10:13 to put the Huskies ahead early and for good. Off the feed from Alana Moore, Elmore cut right and slid the ball by the keeper.
“Feels great,” head coach Margaret Rodriguez said on Elmore’s return to the starting lineup. “She trained a lot in the spring for us so we kind of knew what she was going to bring. She’s electric on the field and she needed to get some confidence so getting two goals against Providence and here was big for her.”
The Huskies (1-1) were faced with a different defense compared to their last time out against Providence. The Friars played an up-tempo and aggressive game compared to Fairfield’s clumped-together formations and ball-following style, forcing the Huskies to adjust physically and mentally.
“Much different picture from Providence to here,” Rodriguez said. “In Providence the game was opened up a little bit, it was a quicker tempo so we handled that really well. Here, Fairfield dropped in, sunk in and just sort of waited for us which our backline needed to get more comfortable with time and space. Unfortunately they took the time and space a little bit in the beginning but second half I think we flipped it and definitely became aggressive with the tempo.”
Elmore seemed to have no trouble with the Stags’ style of play when she added an assist to her stat line early on in the second half. She fed the ball to Melina Couzis on the near side, who placed it just over the head of the goalkeeper from more than 18 feet out.
“Just enjoying being back playing. Having a great time,” Elmore said on her return.
Defensively, Randi Palacios shined in net. With Kelsey Kohler out with back spasms after a fall against UMass, the Huskies had to turn to Palacios, who came through with a pair of big stops. She effectively limited the Fairfield (1-1) offense to just six shots and only three on net, giving her the confidence Rodriguez felt the redshirt junior needed.
“Randi’s phenomenal,” Rodriguez said of her interim starting goalkeeper. “She’s great on her feet and she’s composed. She’s quick off the line; she saved us big time in the first half and again in the second half. I can’t take credit for her. Vanessa [Phillips Bosshart], my goalkeeper coach, has done a phenomenal job with her.”
The Huskies’ third and final goal came in the 70th minute off the foot of Vivien Beil. Regan Schiappa had bolted down the right-hand side and tried to pass the ball across when Fairfield got called for handball penalty, setting up Beil’s first career goal on the penalty kick.
Next up on the schedule, the Huskies continue their in-state slate when they travel to New Britain to take on the Central Connecticut State University Blue Devils (0-1) before returning “home” to Al-Marzook Field next Sunday. UConn’s home field is under construction, forcing the team to play two games at the University at Hartford before calling Dillon Stadium home for the remainder of the season.
Kevin Arnold is the associate sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.