“They fight now. It’s not a guarantee we’re going to win them all but that’s what we want,” said head coach Len Tsantiris. “If we played like that at the beginning of the season, it would be a totally different season.”
The Huskies pulled ahead with just two minutes left after Erin Spillane sent a ball over the top to Yamilee Eveillard, who blew past the defense and finished it to put UConn ahead, 2-1.
The SMU bench was furious with the assistant referee, as he failed to call what appeared to be offsides on Eveillard. However on the replay, while she did appear offsides, it was only by a few inches making it a difficult call in real-time for the official. When the ball was kicked, the Mustang defender stepped up, giving the illusion of Eveillard being far offsides.
Here's the play in slow-motion pic.twitter.com/0aFkEe8tK3— Daniel Connolly (@DanielVConnolly) October 13, 2017
Out of the opening gate, UConn appeared a step slow as SMU — despite a weak offensive attack — forced three corner kicks in the first four minutes of action. However, the Mustangs failed to take advantage of their early chances, something that would come back to bite them.
The momentum quickly swung in the 6th minute after Erin Spillane intercepted the ball in the neutral third and took it untouched to the end-line. Her cross into the box found Yamilee Eveillard, who fought through a defender and headed the ball into the net to give UConn the 1-0 lead.
The Mustangs nearly tied it in the 42nd minute when Claire Oates had a point-blank shot at net from inside the six-yard box, but she sailed it over the frame.
However, UConn’s defensive struggles continued into the second half. In the 55th minute, the Huskies lost track of one of the SMU attackers, giving her an open shot on net. While Huskies goaltender Courtney Hofer deflected the ball over the top of the net, the Mustangs weren’t finished.
On the ensuing corner kick, the Huskies played a zone defense while SMU crashed the net. UConn failed to pick up Katherine Herron on the front post, who headed the ball into the net to tie the game at 1-1.
Both teams had chances in the waning minutes of the second half, however it was the Huskies who were able to come away with the 2-1 win.
With the victory, UConn improves to 5-6-3 on the season. They have a chance to reach the .500 mark for the first time this season against Houston on Sunday. Kickoff is set for noon at Morrone Stadium.