After what was a successful season that culminated in American Athletic Conference regular season and conference tournament championships, the UConn women’s soccer team (19-3-1, 8-0-1 The American) will graduate five seniors. However, the impact of losing these five will be tremendous, as they are more than five individuals; they were the team’s identity.
To say forward/midfielder Rachel Hill, forward Stephanie Ribeiro, midfielder Maddie Damm, defender Tori Patterson, and goalkeeper Emily Armstrong were the focal points of the team’s success would be quite an understatement. Together, they led the Huskies to an NCAA tournament opening round win over Albany and a final No. 20 ranking in the NSCAA Coaches poll.
Hill was the only traditional senior. Ribeiro redshirted in 2015, while Armstrong, Damm and Patterson transferred to UConn from Boston College, Syracuse and Georgia respectively.
The team had a formula for success. Let the potent Hill and Ribeiro do their thing up top, while a sturdy back end prevented things from getting out of hand. As a team, the Huskies scored 46 goals on 39 assists for 131 points. Nearly all of it came from Hill and Ribeiro. The duo combined for 37 goals (Ribeiro 21, Hill 16), 20 assists (Ribeiro 14, Hill 6) and 94 points (RIbeiro 56, Hill 38). That gives them 80 percent of UConn’s goals, 51 percent of their assists and 72 percent of their points.
UConn’s third leading scorer, albeit at much lower clip, was Damm with three goals and two assists for eight points. Throw in Paterson’s goal and assist and UConn will be losing 89 percent of their goals, 59 percent of their assists and subsequently 80 percent of their total points and total offense.
Ribeiro was sensational all year long, earning her a semifinalist nomination for the Mac Hermann award, which is given to the nation’s best player. She was a NSCAA First Team All-American, First Team All-Conference, Conference Offensive Player of the Year and the conference leader in goals and assists. Her 21 goals tied for first in the country and she finished second in assists. She was selected in the second round of the 2017 NWSL College Draft to FC Kansas City,
For Hill, who was a NSCAA First Team All American in 2015, preseason expectations were supremely high. Playing forward and midfield during the season, she wasn’t as dominant but still did enough to earn a Mac Hermann semifinalist nomination of her own, and a spot on the 2016 NSCAA Second Team All-America. She was First Team All-Conference, Conference Co-Midfielder of the Year and second in the conference in goals. She finished her career at UConn at third all-time on the career scoring list and was selected No. 14 overall in the 2017 NWSL College Draft to the Portland Thorns.
The Huskies were a lot more than Hill and Ribeiro however. They led the American in shutout percentage in large part due to Armstrong and Patterson.
Armstrong won Goalkeeper of the Year and was named First Team All-Conference with a conference-best .823 save percentage and 11 shutouts, while starting all 23 of the Huskies’ games. Patterson bolstered the back line in front of Armstrong all year long, also making 23 starts, while being named Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Conference.
Armstrong, Hill, Ribeiro and Patterson were also all named to the All-Tournament team after the Huskies won the American Conference Championship, which was played at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in Storrs.
Damm didn’t rack up the accolades like her peers, but she finished with the third-most goals (three) and points (eight) on the team while starting 20 of 22 games she played in. She also provided invaluable leadership and experience.
It won’t be the first time replacing a great group for 36-year head coach Len Tsantiris, who won 2016 Conference Coach of the Year, but he will need all the help he can get in replacing a senior group that brought so much success to UConn, not just this past season, but throughout their careers.
Matt Barresi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.