After splitting a pair of conference games on the road last weekend, No. 20 UConn women’s soccer looks to move above .500 in conference play in a matchup against Temple in Storrs Friday night.
The Huskies (9-2, 1-1 American) are a perfect 4-0 at Morrone Stadium in 2015. The visiting team, Temple (8-4, 0-2 American), has struggled away from home, with a 1-3 record that includes two road losses last weekend against UCF and No. 18 South Florida to open conference play.
The best news for the Huskies came Sunday, when junior forward Rachel Hill broke her five-game scoring drought with two goals – including the game-winning shot – against UCF.
“Before the UCF game, (Stephanie Ribeiro) and I sat down, and we watched game film and saw what we are doing these past five games that we don’t usually do,” Hill said. “We figured it out that way.”
Hill’s shot in the 81st minute gave the Huskies a 3-2 lead against UCF, securing the team’s first conference win of the season. Hill leads UConn with eight goals this season and is tied for second with three assists.
This certainly comes as good news, as UConn will need all the offensive help it can get to respond to the Owls.
Temple has primarily relied on the strength of its offense throughout season. Averaging 2.58 goals per game, the Owls have several scoring threats for whom the Huskies will have to find an answer. Senior midfielder Kelly Farrell already has 11 goals and two assists at the season’s halfway point. She earned a hat trick two weeks ago, scoring three against St. Joseph’s on Sept. 20.
Senior midfielder Erin Lafferty and sophomore midfielder Elana Falcone also will provide the Huskies with a challenge. Lafferty has five goals and one assist while Falcone has four goals and four assists.
Temple’s offense was on full display in a 4-0 victory in September over reigning America East conference champion New Hampshire, a team UConn defeated 2-0 in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
However, the Owls struggled last weekend in Florida against two of the top teams in the American Athletic Conference.
UCF held Temple scoreless on Thursday last week, the Owls’ first outing of the season without a goal. Temple managed just four shots in the game and only one was a shot on goal. The Owls followed this performance with another anemic showing, this time against South Florida. Temple improved to seven shots with two on goal, but were held scoreless yet again.
In both cases, Temple’s defense held the Florida teams to just one goal in the pair of 1-0 losses.
UConn’s loss to South Florida in the conference opener last week was also 1-0, but the Huskies gave up two goals to UCF on Sunday. The UConn defense will need to bolster its efforts if it intends to counter the Temple offense.
In addition, Hill and Ribeiro will have to put pressure on Temple goalkeeper Jordan Nash inside the box. The pair are the heart and soul of UConn’s offense. Ribeiro’s five goals and four assists have been just as important as Hill’s this season, as all five of Ribeiro’s goals have been game-winners.
UConn is scheduled to kick off against Temple at 7 p.m. Friday in Storrs at Morrone Stadium.