The UConn women’s soccer team will make the drive two hours from Storrs up to Lowell this Saturday for a match-up against UMass Lowell.
UConn is coming off a loss to Harvard at home, and they now sit at 3-3-1 on the year. They struggled to generate a strong offensive presence in their last contest and fell to a tough Harvard attack. The Huskies’ defense also suffered from an increased workload in the first half, allowing 11 shots in the first 45 minutes.
UMass Lowell (1-5-1) has not experienced much success this season, as they started the season with four losses and a tie before winning their first game versus Quinnipiac just over a week ago.
The River Hawks struggles are likely due to their shaky defensive play thus far. They have allowed 2.57 goals per game this season on 14 shots a game. Their defensive tendencies play right into the hand of UConn head coach Margaret Rodriguez’s offensive strategy — high shot volume to tire out the opposing defense.
Offensively, they are adept at drawing foul calls as they have averaged 13.7 whistles per game this season. Their ability to draw the referee’s attention has led to four penalties this season, three of which they have converted.
Considering they have scored just seven goals all season, to 18 given up, the fact that three of them have come as a result of getting fouled in the box is remarkable. UConn will need to be extra careful, as their opponent this week has shown a propensity to accept fouls whenever possible. The Huskies should be relatively fine with it, however, as they have allowed just over seven per game so far.
UConn’s defense will need to have their guard up, as UMass Lowell has averaged 12 shots per game. Interestingly, the three players who have taken the most shots for the River Hawks are all midfielders. This suggests they either frequently fire from distance or their attackers play more of a team-oriented style where they are more focused on the passing game.
Some players to pay specific attention to are Emily Nelson and Courtney Coleman. Both are starting midfielders for the River Hawks, and they both sport high shot-on-goal percentages.
In 585 minutes this season, Nelson has taken 13 shots, in which 62 percent have been on target and two have gone in the back of the net. Both of her goals have come on penalties, however.
Coleman has also scored a penalty among the 12 shots she has taken, 10 of which have been on target for an impressive 82 percent shot on goal percentage.
For the Huskies to take a win home, they will need to neutralize the River Hawks’ ability to draw fouls in dangerous places, pay extra attention to the midfield on the attack and get their own forwards in on the action.
The game takes place Saturday at 7 p.m. at Cushing Field in Lowell. It will be streamed through the “River Hawk Network” on UMass Lowell Athletics’ website.
Mike Mavredakis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com