If you want to be the best in the Big East, you need to go through the best in the Big East.
That was what the UConn women’s soccer team (10-4-5, 6-1-3 Big East) needed if they wanted to earn a spot in Sunday’s Big East Championship Match against No. 17 Xavier University.
The Huskies were up against Georgetown University (11-1-7, 6-0-4 Big East), which has won the last three Big East titles.
It was a rematch of a scoreless draw on Sept. 28 in Washington, D.C., where the Hoyas outshot Connecticut 17-12, despite the Huskies having five shots on goal compared to four for Georgetown.
The first half did not have either team finding the back of the net, but it provided a back-and-forth battle between two of the best defensive teams in the Big East.
UConn forward Chioma Okafor, named to the All-Big East First Team on Wednesday, found herself with multiple opportunities to break the scoreless tie. However, Georgetown defender Julia Leas, the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, was there to make the stop.
That was not the only opportunity for the sophomore from Malawi, as she had the ball right in front of the net and airmailed the ball just over the net.
It wasn’t just Okafor finding opportunities and creating opportunities against goalkeeper Allie Augur. Forward Cara Jordan received a centering pass and had a wide-open net on the opposite post and despite getting past Augar, the shot went just wide.
The Hoyas found some more momentum in a standstill first half with 90 seconds remaining in the half, keeping the ball on their attacking side of the field. Despite that, it seemed that Connecticut was the better team in the first half based on the eye test. The statistics agreed that the Huskies had six shots compared to Georgetown’s five.
UConn drew eight fouls in the first half alone, which seemed to wear the Huskies down as the second half began.
Whatever Georgetown head coach Dave Nolan told his team at halftime seemed to work, as the Hoyas came out blazing hot to start the second half.
In the 46th minute, Georgetown forward Maja Lardner got the first shot, which was blocked and resulted in a corner kick.
UConn goalkeeper Kaitlyn Mahoney, the Big East Goalkeeper of the Year, made a huge save as defender Brianne Riley’s shot on the low left forced the senior from Manorville, New York, to dive to keep the match scoreless.
However, after two blocked shots by Lardner, midfielder Tatum Lenain found the back of the net on the high center part, giving the Hoyas a 1-0 lead.
It seemed like Georgetown was stepping on Connecticut’s neck already, with another massive opportunity coming off the leg of midfielder Emma Davis. However, Mahoney, named to the All-Big East Second Team, made another incredible stop.
The rest of the second half was at a standstill for the most part, with Georgetown staying in control with a one-goal lead.
The Huskies were desperate to keep their season alive as the final 15 minutes showed UConn being aggressive on the attack.
Augur had to make two saves in ten seconds as Jordan and forward Abbey Jones put shots on target.
Two minutes later, midfielder Jessica Mazo tried her luck against the All-Big East First Team goalkeeper, but Augur was a brick wall for those two minutes.
The final minutes of the Huskies’ season showed UConn hurrying, taking any chance that they could to tie the match. However, the shot by Mazo would be the final one the Huskies had.
Overall, Georgetown outshot Connecticut by a small margin, 15-13, with seven shots on goal compared to UConn’s six. It was clear that the second half decided who would face Xavier for the Big East Championship.
UConn’s overall record against the Hoyas drops to 12-7-1. The Huskies will have to wait until the 2024 season to try and get its first win over Georgetown since 2021.
While UConn’s season is now over, the team left no doubt that they could compete with anyone and had a roster full of some of the best players in the conference.
Along with Okafor, Mazo made the All-Big East First Team. Defender Lucy Cappadona joined Mahoney and Jordan on the All-Big East Second Team, while Jones was named to the All-Big East Third Team.