The UConn women’s soccer team (8-3-5, 5-1-3 Big East) earned crucial wins over Villanova (4-6-7, 1-6-2 Big East) on Thursday and Providence (8-3-5, 3-1-5 Big East) on Sunday.
UConn finished their last regular season game at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium with a dominant performance over the Wildcats and an impressive 6-1-3 home record.
Defense has been the core identity of the Huskies all season long, which continued in the contest against Villanova. UConn did not only come out aggressive on defense, but on the offensive end as well.
Scoring started for UConn in the 22nd minute when junior Sophie McCarthy headed the corner kick from junior Abbey Jones into the net. It was McCarthy’s first goal of the season.
The scoring did not stop at one in the first half. Off a corner kick from junior Joyce Ryder, freshman Anaya Johnson netted the ball in for her third goal of the season. Ryder, who celebrated her birthday on Wednesday, tallied her first assist of the season.
Finishing the half with a 2-0 advantage, the Huskies were feeling confident. They took 10 shots to the Wildcats’ one, only needing goalkeeper Kaitlyn Mahoney to save one attempt.
In the second half, it was more of the same for UConn. Six minutes in, graduate student Cara Jordan netted her fourth goal of the season. At the time, the goal tied Jordan with Jones and sophomore Chioma Okafor for the team lead in scoring.
The score reached 4-0 when Jones, adding to her assist from the first half, placed a perfect shot off the bar down and into the back of the net. It was her fourth goal of the season and 11th total point.
Combined with the Huskies’ offensive pressure was the same defense that has shut out opposing teams 10 times this season. Anchoring that defense against Villanova was Mahoney, who made five saves. It was Mahoney’s ninth shutout this year and the third one in a row against Big East opponents.
UConn has enjoyed playing Villanova over the years, compiling a record of 17-2-6 against the Wildcats. Since their first matchup in 1987, the Huskies have averaged 2.28 goals over 25 games.
With the win over the Wildcats, UConn clinches a Big East Championship berth for the fourth season in a row. The tournament will run from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5.
The top two teams in the conference standings will earn a bye to the semifinals on Thursday, Nov. 2.
UConn went into the game against Providence one point ahead of the Friars in the conference standings and eyeing Xavier in the coveted No. 2 position.
It was a successful week for Jordan, as she added another goal in the first half against the Friars. She now leads the team with five as the regular season nears a close.
The Huskies’ defense kept the momentum going from their last game, only allowing one goal from Friar freshman Marryn Gruhn with 18 minutes to go in the second half. Mahoney collected five saves with only one shot on goal coming in the first period.
The game-deciding goal for the Huskies came from senior Lucy Cappadona in the 54th minute when she rebounded a missed free kick from Jones. It was Cappadona’s first goal of the season and her first since Oct. 22, 2022 in a win over Marquette.
After the lone goal from Providence, the Huskies’ backline shut down the Friars in the final 18 minutes to secure a critical Big East win.
UConn sits one point behind No. 2 Xavier in the Big East standings with one game remaining before postseason play begins.
Looking ahead, UConn will head to New Jersey for a showdown against Seton Hall in the last regular season game of the year. The Huskies will need a win over the Pirates and Xavier to lose or tie with Marquette to receive a bye to the Big East semifinals.