The UConn women’s soccer team defeated the Albany Great Danes 4-2 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night at Morrone Stadium in Storrs, CT. The Huskies spread the goals around with Ribeiro and Hill adding their typical contributions with Alexa Casimiro and Maddie Damm scoring as well.
UConn started quickly when Rachel Hill sent a cross into the middle of the box. There was a scrum in front of the net and Alexa Casimiro was able to get a foot on the ball and poke it past the Albany keeper. Just four minutes later, Ribeiro scored in similar fashion, once again toe-poking a ball into the net.
However in the 42nd minute, the Great Danes caught the Huskies too far up and were able to counterattack. The ball was sent up to Mariah Williams who got behind the UConn defense and beat Emily Armstrong near-post on the breakaway, cutting the lead to just one goal heading into the half.
The Huskies didn’t take long to answer back in the second half when Liane Keegans delivered a long throw in into the box to Stephanie Ribeiro. Ribeiro turned and found Rachel Hill on the far side, who drilled it into the corner of the goal.
Much like the first half, UConn had their chances but struggled to score. Maddie Damm had a breakaway but Albany keeper Chloe Borasky made a fantastic save to keep the deficit at two. Stephanie Ribeiro made an impressive play later when she saved the ball on the endline, beat the defender and put a shot on goal. The ball was deflected back into box but all the Huskies shots were blocked.
They finally pushed through for their final goal when Maddie Damm got the ball at the top of the 18 and burnt the defense before sending a perfect shot into the net to push the lead to 4-1. The Great Danes would add another goal, but it was too little too late and UConn came away with a 4-2 victory.
For the seniors, it was their final time playing at Morrone Stadium.
“I’m extremely lucky,” said Maddie Damm. “It’s been the most amazing experience for me and tonight was pretty awesome.”
In the NCAA Tournament getting the win is all that matters. Despite giving up two goals in a game for the first time since September 29, head coach Len Tsantiris wasn’t concerned.
“The first goal was a lapse. The second goal was a cross. There’s nothing you can do about that,” he said. “They didn’t build anything up. I wasn’t worried about that.”
With the win, the Huskies move on to the second round of the tournament for the second year in a row where they will face the Auburn Tigers on Friday at 3pm in Gainesville, Florida.