The UConn women’s soccer team defeated Northeastern 2-0 at the Joseph J. Morrone Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 28 to get their second win of the season and improve their overall record to 2-0-0 (2-0-0 Big East). On the contrary, Northeastern suffered their second loss of the season, and now sit at 1-2-1 (1-2-1 Colonial Athletic Conference).
Whereas the 2-0 scoreline may suggest that UConn dominated Northeastern throughout the entirety of the match, the reality is that Northeastern had the Huskies on the back foot in the opening stages of the first half. Head coach Ashley Phillips gave her players free range to aggressively press UConn, which sometimes caused more harm than good for the visitors, as UConn were able to play out of the press, or catch Northeastern out of position to hit them on the counter attack. Although they were unable to capitalize, their ability to quickly get into Northeastern’s final third was definitely a promising sign.
Northeastern continued the press, but also relied heavily on possession, as they dominated the majority of possession for the half. UConn continued their style of play, which was to hit Northeastern on the counter attack, and their patience finally paid off in the 14th minute, when forward Jada Konte was put through on goal, which forced Northeastern goalkeeper Angeline Friel to come off her line and clear it before Konte was able to capitalize.
In like manner, Northeastern would get a shot of their own to break the deadlock in the 23rd minute, when a corner put into the box was connected on by the Huskies, and just narrowly went over the crossbar to keep the contest scoreless.
The back and forth by both teams would finally end in the 26th minute, and it would be UConn that came out on top. A free kick about 40 yards from goal was hit into the box by defender Jacqueline Harnett, with midfielder Sophia Danyko-Kulchycky leaping over the cluster of bodies to head it over Friel and into the back of the net to make it 1-0 UConn.
Kulchycky’s goal led to an overall increase in confidence for the squad; this time, it was UConn who were putting Northeastern under pressure, and their hard work nearly led to another goal scoring opportunity in the 28th minute. Furthermore, in the 31st minute, Konte was able to beat her defender on the left side of the pitch, which allowed her to dribble towards the byline, and, despite sending in a dangerous, low-driven cross into the box, no one was at either posts to get on the end of it. UConn was unable to take advantage of their opportunities, but the ease at which they created chances is something that certainly concerned the Northeastern coaching staff.
Although most would say that the most noteworthy moment of the half was UConn’s opening goal, it can be argued that the introduction of forward Jaydah Bedoya surpassed anything else that went on in the opening 45 minutes. Bedoya came on and immediately beat multiple defenders before cutting in on her right and hitting a shot that went just over the crossbar. She served as the catalyst in attack for the Huskies on the left side, and her ability on the ball created gaps in Northeastern’s midfield and defense.
In like manner, forward Kess Elmore’s introduction also changed the dynamic of the attack, as her equally great dribbling skills allowed her to beat defenders and open up the pitch to create opportunities for her teammates.
Despite the 1-0 lead, head coach Margaret Rodriguez’s squad would not get complacent, and it showed. They began the second half with the confidence and aggressiveness with which they had ended the first, as they maintained their shape and limited the options in attack for Northeastern.
Bedoya and Elmore began the second half, and they’d certainly be looked toward when UConn went on the attack. However, the opening stages of the half involved a stalemate between the two sides, as the ball spent most of the time in the middle of the pitch, which meant Bedoya and Elmore were not able to have their usual impact on the wings.
The 55th minute would finally see Bedoya have an impact in the attack, as she received the ball at the edge of the box and cut in before taking a shot that veered just off target.
Northeastern had a golden opportunity in the 61st minute, as Fisher dribbled toward the byline before putting a cross into the box that found unmarked forward Rose Kaefer at the back post, who hit it over the net to keep UConn on top. Another opportunity came Northeastern’s way in the 83rd minute when they were awarded a dangerous free kick at the edge of UConn’s box. Fisher stepped up and shot it toward goalkeeper Randi Palacios’ near post, but was unable to find the bottom corner.
These missed opportunities would prove costly for the visitors as, in the 85th minute, forward Yamilee Eveillard played a ball to midfielder Lucy Cappadona at the edge of Northeastern’s box; Cappadona proceeded to hit a rocket towards goal that went bar down and into the back of the net to double UConn’s advantage. This goal would ultimately seal the deal for UConn, and give them the victory over Northeastern.
UConn now gets set to travel to Rhode Island on Thursday, Mar. 4 to take on the Providence Friars, who also sit at 2-0-0 (2-0-0 Big East). If there’s anything we can be sure of, it’s that one of these two squads will attain their first loss of the season this Thursday.