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UConn Women’s Soccer’s Steep Comeback Bid Falls Short

The Huskies are still looking for their first win in conference play.

Ian Bethune - The UConn Blog

For the first 25 minutes of UConn women’s soccer’s conference matchup against UCF, it looked like the Huskies were about to hit a new low and suffer one of their worst losses in program history. They trailed 4-0 and looked like they were ready to pack it in and accept another demoralizing loss in a demoralizing season.

But head coach Margaret Rodriguez wasn’t about to let that happen. She pulled the starting keeper after the first two goals. She used seven substitutes to try and find some fight.

She found it in freshman Pato Jerzak. In the 33rd minute, the Swede broke free towards the net and put a solid shot on target that was parried by the UCF keeper and the rebound was put home by Elena Santos to get the Huskies on the board.

Eight minutes later, Jerzak again found Santos, who scored to cut the deficit in half going into the break. It didn’t take long for the Huskies to find the back of the net again as Sophia Danyko-Kulchycky hit a rocket from the top of the net. Suddenly, UConn trailed by just one goal.

Jerzak had two great looks to tie it but couldn’t convert. Chances squandered, the Huskies allowed a fifth goal in the 65th minute that put the game to bed.

Despite the loss, Rodriguez was happy with how her team responded to going down big.

“We responded great. That’s what we’re working on, our mentality,” she said. “Our team’s going to fight, bottom line it’s just going to take time. But we’re fighters out there and that’s what I love.”

Big Hill to Climb

Ian Bethune - The UConn Blog

Despite the positive takeaways from the last 60 minutes, the game still counts in the loss column. It is UConn’s 11th loss of the season, the most in program history. The previous mark was set in the 2010 season, when the Huskies went 10-10-3 but still reached the NCAA Tournament. Now, it looks doubtful the team will even reach the American Conference Tournament.

UConn currently sits in last in the conference standings with zero points. They sit four points out of sixth-place, the last spot in the conference tournament. The Huskies still have over half their conference games remaining so there’s still time for a turnaround, but it needs to happen on October 11th at ECU. It doesn’t look good through two weekends but they team isn’t backing down from the challenge.

“Our team is not giving up and I’m not giving up in them,” Rodriguez said. “I believe in them.”

Keeper Carousel

Mollie Kerrigan allows the second goal of the game vs. UCF.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Against USF on Friday night, Mollie Kerrigan started in goal instead of Randi Palacios, whose earned the bulk of the starts this season. Rodriguez said Palacios had been giving up too many soft goals and the team needed to see what Kerrigan could do.

However, the soft goals continued Sunday as Kerrigan was well out of position on the first two goals. She was pulled in favor of Palacios in the 16th minute.

Palacios was better but still allowed three goals, including a weak one to end the comeback bid in the second half. Rodriguez wasn’t thrilled with the performance between the posts after the game.

“The goals were poor. There’s no spinning it. Those were poor goals, we can’t let up those kind of goals,” she said.

Moving forward, Palacios will be the starter.

“Randi is the better keeper,” Rodriguez said. “She’s more confident, she speaks better, she’s got better feet so we have to go with that.”

Eveillard Injured

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The Huskies were dealt a blow when Yamilee Eveillard went down with a knee injury against USF.

“Kneecap kind of jammed into the turf,” Rodriguez said Friday night. “Structurally it looks ok, we’re going to get it checked out again but it’s not ideal.”

Eveillard didn’t play Sunday and was seen in a brace with crutches. Rodriguez didn’t have an update or timeframe for her return.

Last season, Eveillard was one of the team’s best forwards but has struggled this season, totaling just two assists and no goals. She has come close a few times, however, and her absence will force other players to step up.