Women’s Soccer: UConn begins Big East play 

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UConn Women’s soccer takes on Buffalo at Joseph J. Marrone Stadium on September 16, 2023. The Huskies tied with Buffalo 1-1 after Chioma Okafor scored a header off a corner kick in the first half. File photo/The Daily Campus

The UConn women’s soccer team begins Big East Conference play with a busy week against Creighton (2-2-4) on Thursday at 6 p.m. and St. John’s (5-1-2) on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Huskies get to play from the comfort of their own home, as both contests will be held at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium, finishing up a three game home-stand. 

Creigthon will not be an easy win. On a two game win streak, the Bluejays have not lost a game since Aug. 24 when they were defeated 4-1 by Saint Louis. 

Creighton’s goalkeeper Keelan Terrell travels to Storrs with momentum after she was named the Big East Goalkeeper of the Week on Monday. UConn needs to be aggressive on the offensive end to counter Terrell’s defensive pressure. The Huskies have been quiet offensively recently, scoring only one goal in the past two games. 

The Huskies will look to leading goal scorer Chioma Okafor for that offensive punch. The sophomore has scored four goals in seven games, adding in an assist in the same time. Okafor shares fourth place in the Big East for goals scored this season and ranks first in shots and shots per game. 

It would be unjust not to mention UConn goalkeeper Kaitlyn Mahoney’s performance thus far. The senior has collected 13 saves while only allowing four goals in seven appearances. Most importantly, Mahoney has been among the most reliable players on the team, playing all 630 possible minutes of the season so far. 

Creigthon is coming off an impressive shutout win at home over South Dakota State. Freshman Shani Sirota provided the only goal of the game by way of a header into the back of the net in the 45th minute of the first half, which was her first career goal. 

The Huskies have fared well against the Bluejays since transitioning back to the Big East Conference, going 2-0. The first contest in 2021 saw UConn take a double overtime win at home and followed it up with a 2-1 victory in Omaha, Nebraska in 2022. 

Thursday’s game will be Goal Patrol Night as well as Jersey Night. All spectators 18 and under will be granted free admission if wearing a jersey. The Huskies will look to use the crowd’s energy to get the Big East games started off on the right foot. 

Sunday’s match brings St. John’s to Storrs, with the Red Storm among the top of the Big East standings heading into conference play. St. John’s boasts an impressive record (5-1-2) and have yet to take a loss on the road. 

Graduate student Jessica Garziano has had an impressive season thus far, setting a new school record in assists and collecting the 28th of her career in a win over Harvard. The Red Storm player has tallied five goals and six assists through eight games. For her efforts, Garziano was named the Big East Offensive Player of the Week on Monday. The Red Storm midfielder ranks first in assists in the Big East and third in goals scored. In addition to her conference honor, Garziano was named to the TopDrawerSoccer National Team of the Week on Tuesday.  

Garziano was not the only St. John’s player to be named to that team this season; defender Frederique St.-Jean was awarded the same honor earlier this season on Aug. 22 for her efforts against Fairleigh Dickinson. The Huskies will have to prepare for St.-Jean’s defensive presence, as the offensively struggling Huskies look to bounce back after the previous two low-scoring games. 

St. John’s and UConn have a long history together, dating all the way back to 1993 when the two faced each other for the first time. The Huskies took the win that day in Storrs 5-0. 

UConn comes into this game with a bitter taste on their tongues. The most recent matchup between the two was in the Big East tournament in 2022 that saw the Huskies fall to the Red Storm in penalty kicks 4-2, ending UConn’s season abruptly. 

UConn dives head first into league play this week on their quest to deliver the university their first  Big East title since 2004. 

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