The UConn women’s soccer team fell to the Butler Bulldogs 2-1 at Chapey Field in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament. The Huskies (8-3-1, 6-2-1 Big East) will now have to wait until the selection show on Monday, April 19 at 1 p.m. to find out if they’ll make the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship. Similarly, the Bulldogs (10-2-0, 6-1-0 Big East) will also have to wait for the selection process, as they fell to Georgetown in the final of the conference tournament.
The Huskies finished the season in second place in the East Division, behind undefeated Georgetown, and knew that they would get an outright bid to the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship if they won their conference tournament. However, they would first have to get past a fiery Bulldogs team that finished first in the midwest division.
Head coach Margaret Rodriguez’s starting 11 remained unchanged; Randi Palacios was in net, while the backline was made up of Melina Couzis, Julia Petrillo, Jacqueline Harnett and Kara Long. Lucy Cappadona, Jessica Mazo and Emma Zaccagnini looked to control the center of the park in midfield, while the forward trio was made up of Kess Elmore, Yamilee Eveillard and Jada Konte.
UConn had a solid start to the first half, as Mazo and Cappadona were able to get shots off in the seventh and 19th minute. Moreover, Palacios made a great save in the 14th minute when she got down to her left to deny a shot by Bulldog forward Alli Leonard.
Furthermore, three other Huskies were able to test Butler goalkeeper Stephanie Rodriguez. Konte took a shot on goal in the 26th minute, along with Mazo in the 30th minute, and Zaccagnini in the 34th minute. All things considered, it seemed as if UConn had the majority of the momentum.
Nevertheless, it would be Butler who struck first. Midfielder Aliya Diagne found forward Gretchen Skoglund, who proceeded to smash it into the back of the net to snatch all the momentum away from the Huskies and take a 1-0 lead into the half.
The Bulldogs’ “gut punch” to UConn just before the half seemed to affect their performance in the ensuing 45 minutes. They struggled to gain any momentum on offense, and lacked the creativity needed to find the equalizer. Although players like Eveillard and Elmore hit shots toward goal, they never truly threatened Rodriguez.
The Huskies’ desperate search for a goal would cost them dearly in the 76th minute, as Butler were able to catch them out of position to score their second goal of the contest. Forward Abigail Isger found defender Alana Wood, who got the ball past Palacios. UConn would now have a mountain to climb if they wished to get back into the contest.
Even though it seemed as if the match was all but lost, the Huskies were able to respond a mere three minutes after Butler’s second goal of the match. Couzis scored in the 79th minute to give the Huskies a little over ten minutes to find the equalizer and force overtime.
However, UConn’s search for the equalizer would come to no avail, as Butler successfully triumphed over the Huskies on neutral ground. The Bulldogs went on to face Georgetown in the final of the Big East tournament, where they lost 2-1 in overtime. The Hoyas finished the regular season undefeated, and secured an outright bid to the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship.
If UConn are to be one of the 64 teams to be selected on Monday, they will compete in the first round of the tournament on Tuesday, April 27 or Wednesday, April 28.