Following one of the worst seasons in program history in 2018, the UConn women’s soccer team needed a bounce-back year. The team didn’t quite accomplish what they wanted, but they improved on the 4-14 campaign to go 6-8-3 in 2019.
Keep in mind that this team, much like the men’s soccer team, never had a real home game this season. With the construction of a new stadium happening on campus, the Huskies had all their “home” games either at the University of Hartford’s field or Dillon Stadium, home of the Hartford Athletic.
UConn got off to a solid start, going 4-3-1 in the out-of-conference portion of its schedule. Among the highlights were convincing 3-0 and 3-1 wins over Fairfield and Boston University, respectively. The highlight of the season came in the final non-conference game against UMass Lowell, where Kess Elmore scored the game winner in overtime on a perfectly placed kick from about 40 yards out.
However, once conference play started, UConn’s season hit a brick wall. The team lost four straight games without scoring a single goal in any of them. The offense couldn’t put anything together, and it seemed like the Huskies were headed for another lost season.
Prayer Is Answered!
Kess Elmore launches a game-winning goal to move the Huskies to 4-3-1! pic.twitter.com/LlH3Hm8kTX
— UConn Women's Soccer (@UConnWSOC) September 22, 2019
But they bounced back in a huge weekend sweep with wins against Houston and SMU, the first of which required an overtime goal from Yamilee Evillard. After a tie with a ranked UCF squad the next weekend, UConn just needed to win its final game for a chance at making the conference tournament, a silly thought just a couple of weeks earlier.
On senior night against Temple, UConn took a 1-0 lead late into the game before Temple tied it. The game went into double overtime, and in the final minute, it appeared the Huskies pulled off a miraculous win with Vivien Beil breaking free for a breakaway and scoring the game-winning goal. But during the celebration, the referees determined that Beil was offsides and waved off the goal, ending the game and the season for the Huskies.
It was a heartbreaking way for the season to end, but the Huskies definitely took a step in the right direction during the 2019 campaign.
Elmore had a tremendous season for the Huskies, leading the team in both goals (4) and assists (6). Evillard was right behind her with three goals. The team also got a lot of production out of the freshmen, especially Jessica Mazo, Jaqueline Harnett and Emma Zaccagnini.
But the team MVP was undoubtedly goalkeeper Randi Palacios. After being somewhat of a liability in net the previous season, she showed her improvement by saving over 78% of the shots she faced. She allowed only 1.35 goals per game and notched three shutouts during the season. Palacios was also a lock for at least one highlight-reel save every game.
UConn was a good defensive team this season and had great production in net. If the offense can improve, the women’s soccer team will be a threat in the Big East in the fall.