After a slow start, the Huskies extended their unbeaten streak to eight matches when they got their third consecutive clean sheet with a 3-0 victory over UCF.
“This was not an easy game,” head coach Len Tsantiris said.
Goals came from Toriana Patterson, Rachel Hill and Stephanie Ribeiro. Ribeiro scored her 13th goal of the year, bringing her to a tie for second nationally in goals. Hill’s was her 11th, tying her for sixth.
Emily Armstrong had a great effort in goal, earning her seventh shutout of the season. She had eight saves, multiple of which were downright impressive.
“I thought I played pretty well,” Armstrong said. “I’m pretty happy with myself.”
The first half was a half that was unlike many the Huskies have played this year.
It’s typical of UConn to dominate possession, not allow very many shots and take plenty of their own. None of the three happened in the first half.
“They [UCF] started hard,” Tsantiris said. “They’re a good team. They possessed the ball.”
Offensively, the Huskies couldn’t get anything going. Every time they would string a pass or two together, someone would send the through ball or the final breakout pass out of bounds, nowhere even close to a UConn player.
The Huskies also allowed six shots, after allowing 16 shots over their two previous games, over 200 minutes of play. UCF had good chances, but Emily Armstrong was up to the task, making four saves, including a diving stop to her left in the 35th minute.
The build-up got better towards the end of the half, resulting in a couple of chances.
In the 31st minute, Rachel Hill found herself with some space down the left side. She sent a cross into Alexa Casimiro, who forced the Knights’ goalkeeper Vera Varis to make one of her four saves of the half.
Two minutes later, Stephanie Ribeiro found Hill, whose rocket of a shot from the right side was blocked.
The 40th minute was where the game really changed. Hill was chasing down a loose ball inside the six-yard box after a Riberio shot. The ball was loose in front of Varis and Hill went to kick the ball but the UCF keeper had pulled in and Hill got Varis instead. Hill was given a yellow card for the foul and Varis was forced to leave for the final minutes of the first half as she was checked for a concussion.
In the 45th minute, Hill was taken down outside the 18-yard box on the right side, just before the end of the half. Ribeiro took the free kick and found Patterson’s foot right at the front of goal. Her flick found the net with 34 seconds remaining to give UConn the lead.
The story of the beginning of the second half was Armstrong. In the early stages of the first half, she made save after save to keep the Huskies in the lead.
After the flurry of shots the Huskies faced over the first 10 minutes of the first half, they were able to lock it down and put it away.
In the 57th minute, Ribeiro found Hill on a through ball. She got behind the defense and her shot found the bottom right corner to give the Huskies their insurance goal.
“That was a great counter attack,” Tsantiris said.
Less than 10 minutes later, Ribeiro got one of her own. She got a steal about 30 yards from goal and was able to fend off the defense until she got her shot off, beating Vera to give UConn a 3-0 lead.
UConn (12-2-1, 4-0-1) will take the field next on Sunday when they welcome USF to Morrone Stadium on Senior Day. Before the 12 p.m. kickoff, UConn’s five seniors (Maddie Damm, Armstrong, Hill, Patterson, Ribeiro) will be honored.