by Stratton Stave, Sebastian Garay-Ortega
This Thursday and Sunday, the University of Connecticut women’s soccer team (6-6, 1-2) will hope to rebound in what has not been a promising start to conference play. The Huskies opened the conference season with a brutal loss to St. John’s and then followed it up with a promising win at Seton Hall, who was projected to finish towards the bottom of the conference. First place Butler really gave it to UConn last Sunday, in a game where the Huskies failed to gain any sort of traction.
This Thursday, UConn will be tested in a big way in their contest at home versus Marquette University, who currently ranks third in the conference, as compared to UConn’s seventh. According to the Massey Computer Rankings, the Golden Eagles rank 96th in the country, to UConn’s 137th and projected the game to be a 1-1 tie, giving the Huskies just a 36% chance to win.
Redshirt junior forward Rachel Johnson led the Golden Eagles in goals up to this point, scoring three, as a part of a well-rounded attack that has seen four players score multiple goals. To go with her goals, Johnson has added two assists, contributing to her team high eight points.
Another Marquette player to keep an eye on will be redshirt freshman midfielder Elsi Twombly, who has played a key role as a facilitator. The distributor has dished out four assists to go along with two goals up to this point, making for an impressive first-year campaign.
Marquette as a team has scored 15 goals and allowed as many, largely thanks to their game against Coaches poll No. 20 BYU, which was a 7-0 bloodbath defeat.
The Golden Eagles have not lost any other games by more than one, so it is unlikely that the Huskies will win big. The key will be to stay in the game early and keep possession, which will enable the Huskies to make a push late to win the game.
Moving onto our Sunday contest at DePaul, the Blue Demons sit eighth in the conference, one position behind UConn and enter the contest having just defeated Villanova in a 3-2 thriller on Sunday, Oct. 3. DePaul will be lead into battle by leading goal scorer forward Morgan Turner, who has found the back of the net seven times in the 11 games she has started and contributed to 14 of the Blue Demons’ 31 points this season. Right behind Turner is midfielder Beth Smyth, who has one goal and two assists to her name in the 11 games she has started. Defenders Sydney Parker and Grace Phillpotts have both started all 11 matches and will look to stifle the Husky attack. So far, both have done a solid job organizing the Blue Demon defense, as DePaul has only lost by more than one goal on one occasion, which came against No. 15 in the nation Georgetown.
DePaul’s solid attack and staunch defense do not mean that UConn should be immediately ruled out, however. The Huskies will be hungry for a goal, as they have only scored once in their last four games. Furthermore, the Huskies have demonstrated that they have a multitude of players that can find the back of the net. Forwards Jaydah Bedoya and Duda Santin both have two goals and two assists to their names, while fellow forward Jada Konte has two goals and one assist on the season. Moreover, midfielders Lucy Cappadona, Cara Jordan, Abbey Jones, Sophie McCarthy and forward Isabelle Lynch all have one goal to their name, which further asserts the notion that UConn can get their goals from various different sources. This will most definitely prove beneficial against a Blue Demon side that simply does not concede that many goals.
One thing that DePaul will be able to exploit is the Huskies’ backline. UConn has conceded two or more goals in all but one of their defeats this season; the defense seems to collapse at the first sign of pressure, which will of course be to the benefit of the Blue Demons. Chloe Landers, Evelyn Arsenault and Jackie Harnett have started on defense in the Huskies’ previous two matches and will need to stay firm to prevent another humiliating loss such as the one they suffered at the hands of Butler on Sunday, Oct. 3.
Margaret Rodriguez’s squad will need to be efficient in DePaul’s final third, as the DePaul defense has demonstrated that they do not give their opponents many goal-scoring opportunities. The Huskies’ midfield will be crucial in the team’s chance creation and will need to bring the ball up to the forwards if they wish to have any shot of testing the Blue Demon backline. Most importantly, Landers, Arsenault and Harnett must not crumble at the first sign of adversity and remain steadfast to prevent the Turner lead attack from having their way in UConn’s final third.