The UConn women’s soccer season came to an end on Friday after falling to the Auburn Tigers 4-1 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Huskies were ultimately done in by one bad stretch in the first half where they allowed two goals in three minutes. Despite having their chances in the second half, they struggled to get any quality shots.
Maddie Damm continued her strong performance from the first round, putting the Huskies on the board in the first minute of the game. Stephanie Ribeiro tried taking the ball to the net but was stopped by the Auburn defense. She turned and found a Damm, who fought through the defense and buried the ball in the left corner to make it 1-0.
The lead did not last very long, however. The Huskies turned the ball over at midfield four minutes later and the Tigers capitalized on the counter attack. Casie Ramsier flicked a long ball into the box for Kristen Dodson who put it past Husky keeper Emily Armstrong.
While the score remained tied for much of the half, Auburn controlled possession and out-shot UConn 10-4. It all came apart at the end of the first half when Auburn took the lead in the 39th minute off a header from Gianna Montini. Two minutes later, Brook Ramsier found the back of the net to put Auburn up 3-1 at the half.
With the lead in hand, the Tigers came out with a defensive play style in the second half and the Huskies struggled to get much going offensively. The long passes to Ribeiro and Hill that they had utilized all season were unsuccessful and UConn struggled to put enough short passes together in order to attack the
UConn’s best opportunity to cut into the lead came in the 65th minute off a header from Heidi Druehl that looked destined for the goal. Unfortunately, Auburn keeper Sarah Le Beau made an incredible leaping save to deny the attempt.
The Tigers would add a final goal in the 75th minute to push the lead to 4-1, which would hold for the final score.
It’s a tough end to what was still a great season for UConn. The Huskies went undefeated in conference play, winning both the American regular season and tournament championship. In the end, it was the conference that ended up hurting them. Once conference play began, the Huskies were not tested by a team on the level of Auburn or other nationally relevant teams in the tournament.
With the end of the season, Friday also marks the final game for seniors Rachel Hill, Stephanie Ribeiro, Emily Armstrong, Tori Patterson and Maddie Damm. All five players have had incredible careers while also helping UConn return to their place in the NCAA Tournament after the program stumbled.
Despite the loss, there is still a lot this team has to be proud of. Len Tsantiris and his Huskies will hopefully continue to build after this season’s success.