The UConn women’s soccer team gets set to travel to Anderson Stadium to take on Providence on Thursday, March 4 at 3 p.m. The Huskies (2-0-0) are coming off an impressive 2-0 victory over Northeastern, while the Friars (2-0-0) will look to build off their momentum after a 4-0 thrashing of Bryant University two weeks ago.
This is the first conference matchup for either team this season, and the first time either side will face one of their Eastern Division rivals. In fact, UConn has not played a conference matchup in the Big East since they faced the St. John’s Red Storm in 2012. Despite the noteworthy return, head coach Margaret Rodriguez will be more focused on getting her squad ready for Thursday’s battle. However, she will be put at ease by the excellent display in attack the team has had so far.
Forward Kess Elmore has demonstrated how effective she is at opening up the pitch, as her excellent dribbling skills allow her to beat defenders and play teammates into space. Furthermore, Lucy Cappadona has hit the ground running since her arrival at Storrs; the freshman currently leads her team in goals scored with two, with the most recent one coming from against Northeastern. Cappadona is able to move the ball forward effectively, and always makes sure to position herself in the right spots on the field.
Forward Yamilee Eveillard brings a veteran presence to a relatively young UConn squad. The senior serves as the outlet, receiving the ball to feet before playing it to one of her teammates. Although this sounds simple, it is a crucial skill every striker needs in order to continue the free flow of possession. However, Eveillard isn’t just built to be the outlet. She can also make runs into space and take on the fullbacks. Moreover, she times her runs in behind the defense perfectly in order to get through on goal.
Jessica Mazo plays in the heart of midfield, and can serve as an outlet for the fullbacks looking to make their next pass. Her ability to keep the ball moving is crucial to the team’s build-up play, and her ability to find players in space is something very beneficial for a team that looks to counter attack the opposition.
Finally, forwards Jada Konte and Jaydah Bedoya are able to provide a spark in the attack. Konte is great at making runs into space, and, like Eveillard, receives the ball with her back to the defender before finding the next pass. On the other hand, Bedoya uses her dribbling to quickly get past defenders, and can either find her teammates in dangerous areas of the field or take shots that almost always force a save out of the goalkeeper.
Whereas the attack usually gets most of the praise, one aspect of the team we cannot forget about is the defense. Defenders Rachel Marchini and Jacqueline Harnett serve as the heart of the backline and make sure they are positioned correctly at all times. In addition, Kara Long is a nightmare for defenses and simply does not allow opposing attackers to get comfortable on the ball. Melina Couzis is excellent in her defensive role, but she can also be great at getting up the pitch and joining in the attack.
Providence finds itself in a similar position to UConn. The attack has been excellent, as they’ve managed to bag six goals in the two non-conference matchups they’ve had this season. Furthermore, the defense has yet to concede as well.
Friars head coach Sam Lopes has multiple players he can rely on such as forward Meg Hughes, who has one goal this season, and leads her team in assists with two. Moreover, he has a multitude of players who can find the back of the net, with five other forwards having scored at least one goal in either of their two games.
Overall, UConn’s leaders at the back in Manchini and Harnett will be tasked with taming an attack which never lacks the motivation to score goals. Nevertheless, they will be supported by an attack in Elmore, Eveillard, Konte and Bedoya, who will look to get a goal early to take the pressure off their defense.