The UConn women’s soccer team had a busy week, playing two games in the span of three days. The Huskies first took on the Marquette Golden Eagles on Thursday, Oct. 7 at the Joseph J. Morrone Stadium, then traveled to Chicago, IL. to take on the DePaul Blue Demons on Sunday, Oct. 10 at Wish field. These were two pivotal games for the Huskies, who could ill-afford to bring anything but their A-game against their conference foes.
Margeret Rodriguez’ squad picked up an impressive 3-0 win over a strong Marquette side on Friday, Oct. 7. The Huskies (6-5-0, 2-2-0 Big East) obtained their first win over the Golden Eagles since 2007, and now sit in eight place in the Big East table with six conference points. Marquette (7-5-0, 3-2-0 Big East) had their three game win streak snapped by UConn, and fell to fourth in the table with nine conference points.
Entering the match, head coach Margaret Rodriguez and her squad knew that this would not be an easy contest by any stretch of the imagination. Not only did the Golden Eagles lead the all-time series 1-5-1 going into Friday, but they were also in red hot form, as they had won six out of their last seven matches.
Moreover, forward Rachel Johnson, midfielder Elsi Twombly, forward Maggie Starker and midfielder Katrina Wetherell were all players that the Husky backline would need to be on the lookout for throughout the 90 minutes, as their involvement in the attack has been the catalyst for Marquette’s success this season.
Marykate Ward lined up in goal for the Huskies, while Chloe Landers, Evelyn Arsenault and Jackie Harnett were all given the responsibility to neutralize Marquette’s most dangerous players, a task which they were able to perform perfectly. The midfield consisted of Sofia Weber, Lucy Cappadona, Jessica Mazo and Emma Zaccagnini; finally, Jada Konte, Jaydah Bedoya and Duda Santin made up the forward trio.
UConn knew that they had to come out with all guns blazing and immediately send a statement to this inform Marquette team. The Huskies were able to do this in the opening ten minutes of the contest, as they fired off three shots towards goal, with two of them forcing a save out of Golden Eagles goalkeeper Mikki Easter. These shots would foreshadow what was to come as, in the 10th minute, Konte was able to get on the end of a pass from Cappadona to smash it past Easter and give the Huskies the early lead.
Marquette would stay firm despite the opening punch, and respond with a statement of their own. The Golden Eagles got off shots on Ward and built momentum in UConn’s final third. Then, in the 27th minute, midfielder Alex Campana’s shot hit the crossbar to nearly equalize the contest.
The Golden Eagles would continue to combine in the Huskies final third, but were unable to find the finishing touch thanks in large part to the efforts from Ward, who made herself big to prevent a Marquette opener. The Huskies were ultimately able to hold on and take the lead to the break.
The Golden Eagles would get caught napping to open up the second half, just as they had in the first. The Huskies were able to quickly create goal-scoring opportunities in Marquette’s half, and, five minutes into the second 45, Bedoya found the back of the net to double UConn’s advantage.
The pressure would continue to pile on Pelaez’ squad, who simply could not stop a persistent UConn attack. A minute after Bedoya’s goal, Cappadona struck the crossbar to nearly make it three for the Huskies.
Marquette would eventually find their way back into the match and create goal scoring opportunities, but still failed to find that finishing touch. Their efforts were stifled by Ward, along with a UConn defense that would not be bullied around.
Marquette’s inability to find the net only increased their frustration, and the Huskies were able to take advantage of a low-morale Golden Eagles side to find their third goal of the match.
In the 71st minute, UConn defender Laci Lewis found midfielder Joyce Ryder, who proceeded to take a touch and smash it past Easter to make it three and put the contest out of reach.
The Huskies victory put them one win over .500; moreover, the win meant that UConn split their opening four conference matches to have a .500 record in Big East play.
Rodriguez’ squad would look to build off this on Sunday, Oct. 10 against a DePaul side that was entering the contest off the back of two consecutive victories over Villanova and Seton Hall, respectively.