The offense for the UConn women’s soccer team was held stagnant again on Sunday, as the team failed to score a goal for the second consecutive game.
Cincinnati (4-5-2, 2-0 The American) came into Dillon Stadium and completely outplayed the Huskies (4-5-1, 0-2 The American). The Bearcats left with a 1-0 win in overtime.
While Cincinnati was constantly creating pressure and getting shots, the UConn offense struggled to do the same. Head coach Margaret Rodriguez said after the game that this wasn’t a great performance on either side of the field.
“I think we got lucky the first half to come out 0-0,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t think we defended well as a team. Second half, we came out, I thought we had some quality movement of the ball. I thought we defended better, but we just need to take our chances. We really didn’t get many shots … My forwards, we have to find a way to get them on the ball, to turn and get them facing forward to get the shots off. I don’t think it was our best performance,”
Cincinnati outshot UConn 20-11, and while UConn had just three shots on goal, Cincinnati tallied 11.
The only reason the Huskies survived until overtime was because of the tremendous play from redshirt junior goalkeeper Randi Palacios. She set a new career-high with 10 saves, with more than half being worthy of a highlight reel. The only goal she allowed came in the 94th minute on a Cincinnati corner kick. The Bearcats executed the play to perfection and Ying Zhan set up Sydney Goins for a game-winning header that Palacios had no chance at.
UConn found no such opportunities on the offensive side to support Palacios.
“It’s a little heartbreaking,” Rodriguez said. “I think there’s a couple moments in the first half you think we never worked on our attacking play, and unfortunately the last two weeks, that’s all we’ve been doing … I think the issue wasn’t so much our forwards not connecting, it’s building up from our backs to our mids to our forwards and finding that final pass. The pieces are there. It’s just going to take a little time for us.”
The lack of shots on goal is not representative of the all-out effort on offense. There were times where it looked like the Huskies were creating pressure, but they could never break through.
Sophomore Isabelle Lynch had an opportunity in the first half on a one-on-one but her shot was blocked. Redshirt sophomore Kess Elmore took a great shot right out of the half, but it sailed just high.
Freshman Emma Zaccagnini was involved with numerous offensive possessions and registered a team-high four shots, but only one did the Cincinnati goalie have to save. In the 80th minute, senior Regan Schiappa tried to hit freshman Jess Mazo on a cross pass in the box, but they couldn’t connect.
Rodriguez credited the Bearcats for their defensive approach.
“I think they defended really well,” Rodriguez said. “I think they dropped in, they got numbers behind the ball really well and they were patient with their defending, which caused us to be a little impatient with our attack. They played it very smart.”
After back-to-back scoreless games and an 0-2 start to conference play, the Huskies will have to go back to the drawing board and figure something out, but the competition isn’t getting easier. This Thursday, they travel to play Memphis, who is currently ranked No. 11 in the country with a 10-1 record.
However, Rodriguez said that she believes the team will be able to bounce back from this tough start to conference play.
“It’s a bump in the road,” Rodriguez said. “I told this team there’s very few teams that win every single game in the season. How you react after moments of adversity is going to be indicative of our character of our team … The best thing with this team that I have right now is I know and they know that we’re better than this.”
Danny Barletta is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @dbars_12.