On Sunday, the UConn women’s soccer program will honor one of the top classes to take the field at Morrone Stadium.. The class, consisting of Emily Armstrong, Maddie Damm, Rachel Hill, Stephanie Ribeiro and Tori Patterson, will play their final regular season game at UConn on Senior Day against USF.
Each player had a unique journey through their collegiate soccer career. The senior class has three transfers in goalkeeper Emily Armstrong, midfielder Maddie Damm and defender Tori Patterson. Both Rachel Hill and Stephanie Ribeiro have both spent their entire careers at UConn, however Ribeiro is a fifth-year senior, while Hill is a true senior.
The first of the transfers, and anchor in net, Emily Armstrong came to the Huskies from Boston College as a redshirt freshman. She has started for parts of four seasons and has been a key piece of UConn’s defense in that time with 23 shutouts in her career.
“I wanted to be part of helping to move UConn women’s soccer forward,” said Armstrong on her decision to transfer to UConn.
Her performance in big moments was an integral part in the Huskies’ postseason success during her time. In the 2014 AAC Conference Tournament Final, Armstrong saved a shot during the penalty shootout to secure UConn the win. The next season, Armstrong and the defense shutout Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to advance.
In the defense in front of Armstrong, Tori Patterson came to Storrs by way of the University of Georgia. She played for the Bulldogs for one year before transferring to UConn and has been a main cog on defense ever since.
“I admit that I am a bit sad but there are still a lot of games in the season left to play,” said Patterson. “I know that my team and I are going to do everything in our power to get back here before my time at UConn is up.”
In 2015, Patterson was a member of the defense that allowed just two goals at Morrone Stadium, where they finished with a perfect 10-0 record. Patterson tallied her first career goal last Thursday, something that Emily Armstrong mentioned as one of her own favorite moments at UConn, illustrating just how close the senior class is.
Not to be forgotten, midfielder Maddie Damm originally began her career at Syracuse before coming to UConn.
“I decided to transfer to UConn because I loved the athletic atmosphere as well as the excellent academic programs it had to offer,” said Damm.
A native of North Kingston, RI, Damm has been a solid contributor scoring two goals while adding three assists. However, her impact can also be felt away from the stat sheet as she has shown the ability to lock down the midfield for the Huskies. While she may only spend two years in Storrs, they have certainly made an impact.
“It feels like UConn is where I originally began my collegiate soccer career,” said Damm. “UConn has been an incredible experience for me and has introduced me to some amazing people along the way.
“I'm grateful for my time here and I'm proud to call myself a Husky.”
The other senior from Rhode Island, Stephanie Ribeiro, may have spent her entire career at UConn but that does mean it was an easier journey.
During her first two seasons, Ribeiro saw decent playing time and flashed her potential during her sophomore season where she finished second on the team in points, goals, and assists. However, coming into her junior season, the coaching staff was not happy with her level of conditioning and decided to redshirt her. Instead of transferring, Ribeiro decided to stick it out and came back as one of the best players in the country.
“I stayed because of the team and program,” said Ribeiro
As a redshirt junior, Ribeiro earned NSCAA Third Team All-American and was named AAC Midfielder of the Year. This season, Ribeiro built on an already-impressive junior season by leading the country in both points (36) and game winning goals (7) while also being tied for first with 10 assists and tied for second with 13 goals.
“It's been amazing,” said Ribeiro on her success at UConn. “It's great that each year we've been able to change the success of the program for the better.”
As Ribeiro’s partner-in-crime up top, Rachel Hill will go down as one of the all-time greats in UConn women’s soccer history. She continues to climb through the record books as one of the greatest scorers in program history. Hill currently sits in third with 56 career goals and fourth with 128 career points.
Hill is the only member of UConn’s 2013 recruiting class, but she more than makes up for it. She has started every single game of her four-year career, but will be making the last one at home in the regular season on Sunday.
“It definitely hasn't set in yet. I still don't feel like I'm a senior,” she said. “I think back to freshmen year and it feels like just yesterday. It's crazy how fast time has gone by.”
While it may have gone quick, Hill certainly made good use of the time. She has been awarded numerous accolades, including AAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2014 and 2015, NSCAA First Team All-American in 2015, as well as MAC Herman Semifinalist last season.
“It's been an incredible experience,” said Hill on her four years. “I have had a lot of fun and enjoyed every moment along the way.”
“I'm proud to say I'm a Husky and it's always an honor to put on our jersey and represent UConn.”
Together, the seniors have so far won a total of 56 games, won an American Athletic Conference Championship in 2014 and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons. Overall, the class was responsible for bringing back the postseason success that had come be expected year-in and year-out. And that’s just how Emily Armstrong wants them to be remembered.
“[I want our class remembered] as a group of hard working players who helped this program take important steps forward and helped bring the best out of every member of the team.”