On Sunday, the University of Connecticut women’s soccer team faced off against the University at Albany and got the job done in a 2-0 victory.
The game started a bit slowly for both offenses, but the defensive effort was on point. In just the sixth minute of action, Albany goalkeeper Sophia Chen made an acrobatic save to keep things tied at 0-0. The teams looked relatively even early on, trading chances for much of the first half while the keepers traded impressive saves and stops.
The first half-hour of the second half was largely more of the same: traded opportunities and nice plays by the defense and goaltenders. However, the Huskies began to gain some momentum and started putting up more shots.
This barrage eventually culminated in the 75th minute, when Isabelle Lynch netted her first goal of the season. Sophomore midfielder Lucy Cappadona delivered a beautiful throw-in to Lynch, who created some space and booted a rocket into the top-right corner of the net. The score was a much needed one for Lynch, who, after leading the team in goals last year, had not scored until Sunday. The assist is also a promising sign for Cappadona, who established herself as a scorer last year when she ranked second on the team in goals.
Not a minute later, Lynch once again drove down the field into Great Dane territory looking for some insurance, firing a pass that barely overshot her teammate, sophomore forward Jada Konte. Although Konte couldn’t get to the ball, Albany defender Margot Nezaj corralled the pass and promptly drilled it into the top-left corner of her own net.
The play left everyone in the stadium in disbelief, as it took the UConn players a brief moment to process what had just happened before they knew to start celebrating.
Following this demonstration, the Huskies went with a more defensive strategy, shutting down any of the Great Danes’ hopes of scoring and leaving the game in a 2-0 victory.
Mahoney delivers another great performance: Sophomore keeper Kaitlyn Mahoney had an outstanding performance, recording her second clean sheet of the season with four saves and a lot of success preventing potential drives. Sunday was definitely her most dominant performance thus far, and hopefully it gives her confidence moving forward. It was only Mahoney’s second complete game of the season, since she often split playing time with freshman goalie MaryKate Ward. It will be interesting to watch how that position battle continues.
Lynch has found her niche: It feels evident at this point that the place where forward Lynch is most effective is as a spark plug off the bench. The senior has not scored as a starter in about three years, while still leading the team in goals last season. Coach Margaret Rodriguez would be remiss to not use her off the bench.
Mazo still out of the lineup: UConn’s star forward Jessica Mazo did not suit up for the third straight contest, which brings up the question of when she will return. Mazo was an all-Big East first-team selectee last year and was on the preseason list this season. The junior will be critical to the Huskies’ success as they move into conference play.
The Huskies have an enticing matchup this Thursday, as they are set to face off against the Brown Bears at home. It should be a reasonably even contest, which will give the team a nice close game to prepare for conference play on the horizon.