Amidst the emotions of senior day, UConn Women’s Soccer took down the USF Bulls 3-1 at Morrone Stadium Sunday afternoon. The Huskies were once again led by Stephanie Ribeiro and Rachel Hill, two seniors who combined to score three goals and two assists.
UConn dominated possession for much of the first half, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Maddie Damm had a chance on a through ball after taking it away from the keeper, but couldn’t find an angle into the net from the end line.
The spark came from none other than the senior duo up top. In the 15th minute, Hill found Ribeiro in the box, who scored, much to the delight of a large contingent of her friends and family in the stands.
The Huskies continued to control the half, in large part due to the play of the defense. On the outside, Kristen Vinciguerra and Heidi Druehl were very effective in pushing the ball out of the back and to the feet of their playmakers upfield.
An effective counter led to UConn’s second goal, when Druehl took the ball up the sideline and found Ribeiro streaking towards the box. Ribeiro curled the ball around the outstretched glove of the USF keeper and found the side-netting to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead.
In the second half, the Bulls came out with an aggressive offensive attack and pushed most of their players up. This forced the Huskies to defend more but also made USF vulnerable to the counter-attack.
The Bulls crashed the net but had a pass intercepted by Heidi Druehl. She found nothing but green all the way to midfield to start a 3-on-2 attack flanked by Hill and Ribeiro. Druehl sent a ball to Ribeiro in the corner, who delivered a perfect cross to the backpost where Hill leapt over a defender and headed it into the net.
Despite the goal, USF continued the pressure and eventually managed to break through. In the 71st minute, Andrea Hauksdottir played a short corner to Gudrun Sigurdardottir who ripped a shot from the top of the 18 that just slipped by the outstretched arm of Husky goalkeeper Emily Armstrong.
The goal was near unstoppable and overall Armstrong had a very strong performance. She was key down the stretch for the Huskies, making a number of big saves including a point-blank shot that would’ve cut the lead to just one with under five minutes to go. UConn would manage to hang on.
The Huskies conclude their regular season home slate with a 9-1-0 record. It’s possible that they play host in the American Conference Tournament, as well as the initial rounds of the NCAA Tournament. They have three more games on the road to wrap up the conference schedule and control their own destiny for the conference regular season championship.
The first of those road games comes next Saturday when UConn visits Temple at 1 p.m.