The UConn women’s soccer team defeated Syracuse 1-0 in a grind-it-out style affair on the strength of a goal from junior forward Stephanie Ribeiro.
Ribeiro’s goal came in the 75th minute from the top of the box. Samantha McGuire connected with Rachel Hill on a cross that she played back to Ribeiro who rocketed a shot into the back of the net.
“I just saw Rachel pass the ball back to me and I just shot it as hard as I could into the back of the net,” Ribeiro said.
The goal was Ribeiro’s third of the season, the second highest total on the team.
In 2014, UConn and Syracuse played to a 1-1 draw, and yesterday’s first half looked like it was heading down that road again.
Both sides, however, had plenty of scoring chances in the first half. UConn’s Samantha McGuire rifled a shot on goal in the fifth minute that was tipped out of play by Syracuse goalie Courtney Brosnan, the first of many close calls.
In the 28th minute, UConn senior defender Megan Hunsberger went down with an undisclosed injury and had to exit the game.
There is no official word yet on Hunsberger’s status going forward.
Despite the experienced Hunsberger going down early, the back line did not miss a beat. UConn head coach Len Tsantiris was happy with the way the back line played throughout the game.
“They were, for the most part, very clean,” Tsantiris said. “They fought hard and they are young kids. I thought they did very well except one time that we got caught on the break. That we have to see and correct.”
Syracuse’s best chance at an early goal came in the 29th minute after winning a corner kick.
The corner was launched into the box and bounced around as players from both sides battled for control. UConn was ultimately able to escape from the skirmish with possession to keep the game scoreless.
As the game headed into the half scoreless, UConn held a 9 to 8 lead in shot attempts. Despite the missed opportunities, UConn remained motivated coming out of the half.
“We deserved to win this game,” Tsantiris said. “We had plenty of good opportunities to put the ball in but sometimes they don’t come.”
After taking the lead in the second half, UConn’s defense did not show any cracks to allow Syracuse a strong chance at a goal.
UConn goalkeeper Emily Armstrong made 8 saves in the game.
Heading into a matchup on Sunday against Harvard, Ribeiro likes the way the Huskies have started the season.
“I think we are doing really well,” Ribeiro said. “We are moving the ball a lot better. We are playing as a team and we are winning.”