The UConn women’s soccer team (5-3-4, 2-1-2 Big East) fell to Xavier (10-2-3, 3-0-3 Big East) Sunday afternoon in an important conference matchup.
Sunday’s game brought together two programs sitting near the top of the Big East standings, with UConn riding a five game unbeaten streak.
UConn suffers its first loss at Morrone Stadium this season to the Musketeers, falling to 5-1-3 at home. Xavier remains unbeaten in conference play and extends their unbeaten stretch to seven games.
After their first conference loss, the Huskies sit at third in the Big East standings with eight points. With their win, Xavier moves up into a first place tie with Georgetown with 12 points each.
The Musketeers struck first with just under 15 minutes to play in the first period. Off a pass from senior Sonia Vargas, junior Samantha Wiehe netted it in off the hands of UConn goalkeeper Kaitlyn Mahoney. It was the junior’s sixth goal of the season, which is the team lead.
The Xavier offense was able to find holes in UConn’s defense throughout the game posting 10 shots on goal to UConn’s four. The Huskies were able to tally 12 shots compared to the Musketeer’s 11, but none found the back of the net in 90 minutes.
The Huskies were aggressive in the game, racking up 12 fouls which resulted in a dozen free kicks awarded to Xavier.
Despite allowing in the game-deciding goal, Mahoney performed well in the net for the Huskies. The senior collected a season-high nine saves on that day, further cementing herself as one of the dominant forces at goalkeeping in the Big East.
Sophomore Chioma Okafor, the team leader in goals, led the way with three shots in the game, but none getting by Xavier goalkeeper Maria Galley. Okafor was one of six Huskies to play the full duration of the game.
In the 87th minute, graduate student Cara Jordan gave one last push for the Huskies, but her shot went wide to bring the game to its final score.
Coming into this game the Husky defense had to be prepared for heavy offensive pressure as the Musketeers’ rank 14th in the country in shots on goal per game. In 14 games this season, the Musketeers have taken 121 shots on goal for an average of 8.64 each game.
To counteract the offensive firepower, UConn has built a reputation among the best defenses in the nation; they headed into this game ranking 12th in shutout percentage with seven shutouts in 11 games. The Huskies held their 11th opponent to one goal or less this season, but their offense was never able to take control of the game from Xavier.
The Huskies came into this contest searching for a first win in its short history against Xavier. UConn is 0-2 all-time against the Musketeers since rejoining the Big East, losing both games 0-1. It is their third game held scoreless in three their attempts against the Musketeers.
UConn has failed to score a goal in three straight games, the last coming in a 2-1 win against St. John’s on Sept. 24. It has been a struggle on the road offensively for the Huskies who have yet to grab its first win in three games. Only one goal has been scored over that stretch, something that needs to change with a conference road trip fast approaching.
UConn looks to get back in the win column this week in away matches against DePaul (5-5-2, 1-3-1 Big East) Thursday and Butler (5-5-4, 1-1-3 Big East) on Sunday. With the top two teams in the Big East earning byes to the semifinals in the conference tournament, the Huskies will make a push for those top two spots.