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Toole heads UConn women’s soccer past Houston, 3-2

Sabrina Toole gets the golden goal in overtime to win it for the Huskies.

UConn’s Sabrina Toole (33) heads in the game-winner.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

For the first time this season, the UConn women’s soccer team reached the .500 mark after capturing a 3-2 victory in overtime over the Houston Cougars. It is the first time this season the Huskies have won back-to-back games.

UConn wasted no time in overtime. Just 77 seconds in, Vivien Beil sent a corner kick into the box and found the head of Sabrina Toole, who sent the ball into the back of the net to give the Huskies the golden-goal victory.

“Vivi played it near post, I jumped up and had to put it in,” Toole said. “If I didn’t, I would’ve had to run all the way back.”

Out of the gate, it was all UConn. They controlled possession and had more than a few chances to score.

Although the Huskies started strong, it would be Houston who got on the board first. Jazmin Grant had a breakaway after slipping behind the UConn backline and sent it past Courtney Hofer to give the Cougars the initial 1-0 lead.

However, the Cougars lead wouldn’t stand for long. In the 18th minute, Beil had a breakaway shot stopped by the Houston keeper, but the ball trickled out to the penalty spot where Erin Spillane sent a one-timer into the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.

Just four minutes later, the Huskies came back, this time to take the lead. A Houston defender slipped with the ball and turned it over to in their defensive third to Beil. The German crashed the backline and sent a through-ball to Elena Santos, who slipped it past the keeper to give UConn the 2-1 lead.

But in the second half, the tide turned in favor of the Cougars. At one point, the Huskies held a 15-3 advantage on shots. But from then on, the Cougars out-shot UConn 13-2.

“We started giving the ball away very easily. We let them in, our midfield dropped too far,” Head coach Len Tsantiris said. “We didn’t play the ball forward, we didn’t hold the ball up front, we just gave it up.”

For much of the second half, UConn played back on their heels, allowing Houston to maintain pressure on the goal. They finally broke through in the 69th minute after the Huskies were unable to clear the ball out of the box. This gave the Cougars multiple shots and they finally put one in to tie the game at 2-2.

While both teams had their chances, it was Houston who nearly stole it away in regulation, sending a pair of great chances over the net. However, neither team could finish and for the sixth time this season, the Huskies headed into overtime, where they came away with the 3-2 victory.

Getting two wins over the weekend is huge for UConn as both games could’ve gone either way. Those six points could be the difference when it comes to making the American Athletic Conference Tournament, as only the top six teams make it and the Huskies currently sit in fifth place.

Next, UConn travels to Florida for a big weekend against USF and UCF, the two teams atop the conference standings.