Northeastern made a visit to Connecticut for a women’s soccer game to officially kick off the fall sports season. The Huskies put on a dominating performance in their first game of the season, beating Northeastern 1-0 behind a goal in the 32nd minute by Stephanie Ribiero. Goalkeeper Emily Armstrong made four saves to earn the shutout.
The first half was a show of UConn’s strength, as Northeastern is no slouch. The other Huskies boast a lineup of seven juniors and seniors with just one freshman.
UConn had a shot advantage of 14-5 in a first half which was spent almost completely in the Northeastern end. Senior forward Rachel Hill had multiple scoring opportunities, as did the rest of the UConn attack.
Coach Len Tsantiris was pleased with how UConn worked offensively.
“For the first time and not having Rachel for most of the game, the kids did well,” he said. “We had chances early on to create a lot of things.”
If not for Nathalie Nidetch, Northeastern’s goalkeeper, and a little bit of luck, UConn could have had three or four goals. In the 13th minute, Hill took a shot from the right side of the 18-yard box that got over Nidetch’s reach but instead of finding nylon, hit the post.
“She saved them,” Tsantiris said. “It would have been 3-0 at half and then the game is over.”
Hill came close again in the 25th minute, when UConn took a free kick from 30 yards out, from right in the middle of the field. Nidetch made the initial save, but the ball squirted to the right side of the six-yard box, right on Hill’s foot. Nidetch was able to deny her follow-up and also deny another shot from the top of the box.
Unfortunately for the home team, Hill, the unanimous AAC Preseason Player of the Year, left the game in the 29th minute with a foot injury. The coaches are saying she is day-to-day.
Despite losing Hill, UConn was finally able to get on the board in the 32nd minute. Redshirt senior forward Stephanie Ribiero went up for a ball in the air at the top of the 18-yard box and was able to direct it around Nidetch to score the Huskies’ first goal of the season.
“Steph [Ribiero] also is coming along. She works really hard and she had her chances,” Tsantiris said of the game’s lone goalscorer.
When Northeastern came forward, it was short-lived and the shots hardly challenged senior goalkeeper Emily Armstrong. She faced five shots in the first half, making three saves while two missed the net.
The second half saw a similar display from UConn. Except for a shot in the 62nd minute where Armstrong almost got chipped, UConn allowed only soft shots and continued to dominate possession and pepper Northeastern’s goal with shots. The home Huskies were pressing the issue throughout the game even though they had the lead. UConn outshot Northeastern in the second half 9-5.
The Huskies’ next game is on Sunday, when they welcome Boston University into Morrone Stadium. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.