The UConn women’s soccer team has come out guns blazing this season, winning their third game with a convincing effort versus Boston University. All season they have been working to fine tune their attack and Sunday was the day it finally clicked.
“The last week and a half, that is all we worked on,” head coach Margaret Rodriguez said on the Huskies’ ability to create space up top. “I think our back line is playing really well, our midfield is a unit and they’re playing solid. Our forwards just need to find a little bit more space and tempo, and to play together a bit.”
This game was marked by well put-together attacks and open space going forward. For the first time this season, they looked organized on the attack.
UConn took a quick lead as redshirt sophomore Kess Elmore streaked down the left side of the pitch on a Melina Couzis wonder-pass and slotted the ball in off the right post in the 20th minute.
They further increased their lead in the second half as Duda Santin netted for the first time as a Husky on a rather nifty dribble in the 56th minute.
The Huskies were strong at the back for most of the game, allowing just eight shots overall with five on target. However, they did allow a troubling goal in the 82nd minute to put the game at a score of 2-1. Goalkeeper Randi Palacios saved a penalty given just a few minutes earlier after a questionable call.
“That PK save was huge for this team,” Rodriguez said. “She saved it and our team knew it, and for us to get the finishing goal right after that was big for this team.”
UConn buried the Terriers’ hopes of a comeback with a goal in the 87th minute as Regan Schiappa found the side netting after a bit of buildup following a throw in. The game’s score would rest there at 3-1.
Early in the second half, Elmore was set up for another goal by freshman Jess Mazo but was unable to finish off the through ball. Elmore was active from the wing all game and had a chance within the first few minutes in front of goal but could not put it away. She was on high alert all game long.
It was the season debut of forward Sophia Danyko-Kulchycky. She did not score but she created a couple of chances in limited minutes off the bench. She displayed an ability to create space up top that put UConn in a vital spot for their third goal.
“She’s been frustrated with her injury, trying to work it back, so for her to get on the field the whole team was rooting for her to find some success,” Rodriguez said about Danyko-Kulchycky’s return to action.
Mazo also shined in this game, playing a fearless midfield. She consistently challenged, and won, tackles to kill off BU attacks.
“She is a bulldog,” Rodriguez said about her star recruit. “That is one word to describe her, she is a bulldog. She will run through a brick wall; she gets better as the game goes on and she’s due for a goal. The whole team wants her to get a goal because she works so hard, not just for herself but she works so hard for the team. She is a kid you trust to go out on the field and give it her all every single game.”
Couzis was aggressive in the first half, earning a yellow card for attempting to grab the ball with her hands while on the ground. She also slid in for a challenge and drew a foul near midfield in the first half. She could be heard arguing with the refs at a point in the second half as well.
Aside from her goal, Santin did not play noticeably well and was carried off the field at the end of the game because of a cut on her foot. She received stitches after the game to close up her cut.
Yamilee Eveillard started for the first time this season but did little with the opportunity. She took five shots in this contest, with just one on target. In general, she struggled to do much with the ball and had a difficult time getting quality shots on net.
In general, this was a promising game from a team that has some injuries to deal with. Pato Jerzak and Vivien Beil are working their way back currently, as is Kara Long who went down in the first half and did not return. Rodriguez noted post-game that this upcoming week is about getting healthy for their game against Harvard.
Next they play Harvard at Dillon stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m. The game will be available to stream on team’s website.
Mike Mavredakis is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com