Xavier University was expected to be a tough challenge for the University of Connecticut women’s soccer team, being ranked No. 1in the Big East standings. They were close in the RPI rankings, with Xavier being 49th to UConn’s 65th. Connecticut had just won a comfortable performance against Marquette a week ago and was looking to carry that momentum. They were competitive for the whole game, but by the end, the Huskies fell to the Musketeers 1-0. This matched the same score they lost to Georgetown University last week, a team that still ranks in the top 30 nationwide.
UConn started by prioritizing possession, hoping to keep the ball away from a Xavier team that focused on pressing and adding extra pressure to the ball. Possession changed often, and the Musketeers looked to force a mistake. Xavier also attempted fast and risky counter attacks, reinforcing that aggressive playstyle. The referees allowed both sides to play unhindered compared to the last few games as well, making for a lot of aggressive defensive stands but without the chances created by called fouls.
The first genuine chance came 15 minutes into the game, where Xavier had a great cross inside the box that was just knocked away by the UConn defense. The Huskies had a few minor chances that did not lead to any real chances right after that, but soon after, the Musketeers’ game plan finally returned some results. The Xavier midfield forced a turnover, and the constant pressure made any attempts at stopping them only backfire. They tapped it right by junior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Mahoney to take the lead 25 minutes in. A second goal by the Musketeers nearly occurred right after that, as a header created by a deep cross sailed high. Xavier had one more chance a few minutes before the end of the half, but it ended with the score unchanged.
The Huskies tried at a comeback in the second half, outshooting them 10-8. That role reversal came as a surprise, as UConn was outshot 7-2 in the first leg of the game. Xavier had a shot one minute in that was saved point-blank by Mahoney, preventing a detrimental goal. Then came the most controversial moment of the game. Senior Jackie Harnett took a deep free kick near the center of the field four minutes into the half, which bounced off the keepers’ hands and in. This tied the game until the referee waved it off and gave sophomore Sophie McCarthy a yellow for a personal foul on the goalie.
It remained hard-fought throughout, but UConn fell 1-0. It was also a copy of the result of the last time it played Xavier. The Huskies will be playing four of their final five regular season matches at home, with the next coming Thursday, Oct.13 against DePaul. UConn should be heavily favored and look to bounce back after this week’s disappointing defeat.