UConn did not have possession most of the game, but they did have something SMU found elusive: A goal.
“We’re young but we’re set to play against them, SMU plays very well,” head coach Margaret Rodriguez said post-game. “We match well with them because they’re not direct and they don’t try to use just athleticism. We knew how they were going to play, I watched their tapes, I scouted them. We had a couple practices under our belt this week to train against them.”
UConn (6-7-1, 2-4-0 The American) held on long enough to survive the potent SMU attack, and locked it down when it mattered. Then as time winded down, freshman Cara Jordan gave them the goal they needed.
In the 78th minute, sophomore Kess Elmore got down the field and played a ball across the net which was met by Jordan’s foot, who blistered a volley into the back of the net for the one and only goal of the match.
“It can’t just be much easier, I think [Elmore] finally got a little break there and got in behind, it was a phenomenal service by her and Cara Jordan, I have been on her case all week to get her confident and playing a little bit more mature,” Rodriguez said. “I saw her score goals recruiting, so I kept saying ‘where’s the goal, where is that’ and finally today she put one home. It was great for her, a good moment for our team.”
Jordan played well, despite playing limited minutes off the bench, and she impacted the game when she was on the field. Both of her shots were on target, something no other player who took multiple shots on the team can say.
Regan Schiappa also showed her talent, using her speed to lock down the SMU attack late in the game when UConn needed to secure their lead.
“[Schiappa] is one of those kids, you want a couple of ‘em because what’s she gonna bring us is fight, grit and work rate,” Rodriguez said.
This win kept UConn afloat in the conference, thrusting them into a three-way tie for sixth place. They have stiff competition ahead of them, as their next games are against USF and UCF down in Florida. Both of which are currently tied for second in the conference.
The rest of the season is the most important stretch on their schedule, if they can grab a point or more from these next two games they will be well set up to challenge for the last spot in the conference tournament.
Mike Mavredakis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @mmavredakis.