The UConn women’s soccer team is in for a potentially tough weekend, facing off against the once-ranked USF Bulls and No. 21 UCF in a span of four days.
Both teams are fighting for the top spot in the conference at this point, tied for second with each other and Cincinnati with nine points apiece. UConn (6-7-1, 2-4 The American) plays USF (8-3, 3-1 The American) Thursday at 7 p.m. and UCF (8-2-2, 3-1 The American) Sunday at 1 p.m.
As a whole, this USF team is scary, boasting a solid offense and a lockdown defense. They have the leading point-getter in the conference, have allowed just 7.2 shots per game and have only lost to ranked opponents this season.
Offensively, USF is reliant on senior forward Evelyne Viens, who leads the conference with 27 points, for goals. She has scored 12 of the team’s 25 goals, or 48% of the team’s scores. The Canada native has also tacked on three assists, so she has been involved in 60% of the team’s overall offense. She has done all of that while missing an entire game, not playing in USF’s 2-0 win over St. Leo early in the season.
They do spread the ball around well, though, totaling more assists than goals scored, 26 assists to their 25 goals. The team has assisted on 21 out of the 25 goals, which means they are adept at moving the ball in the offensive zone.
This may be the key to Thursday’s game, as UConn has allowed 17 assists so far this season on 21 goals allowed. If USF is able to continue their success in the passing game, then UConn could be in big trouble. However, if the Huskies are able to stifle the Bulls’ ground game, then they can flip those opportunities into quick counterattacks on the other end.
However, USF has a unique ability to limit shots defensively. They have allowed just 33 shots on goal all year, with eight of those coming in conference play; that is the best in the conference. In total, they have allowed just 1.09 goals against per game, better than UConn’s 1.14 scored per game and their 1.50 allowed per game.
UCF is especially lockdown defensively, allowing just eight goals all season, with similar offensive production to USF. However, their scoring is spread across two main forwards, Zandy Soree and Kristen Scott, who each have seven goals.
This is a fierce challenge for a UConn team that is on the cusp of conference tournament contention. USF is a real player within the conference and if UConn is able to grab a point from this weekend, they will be in decent shape. If they are able to stun either of these teams with a win, they will be in a great position to face Temple at home in their last game.
Mike Mavredakis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @mmavredakis.