UConn women’s soccer is heading back to the Big East Tournament. In their regular season finale, the Huskies handed No. 21 Georgetown its first loss of the season to secure a top-six finish in the standings and with it, a spot in the conference tournament.
Sophomore midfielder Lucy Cappadona scored the game-winner in the 58th minute with an easy-tap in from in front of goal. The sequence started with a cross from junior midfield Jessica Mazo to sophomore forward Jaydah Bedoya, who beat one Georgetown defender to a 50/50 ball, tapped it around another and delivered a low cross past the goalkeeper to a wide-open Cappadona.
UConn’s sophomore netminder Kaitlyn Mahoney only needed to make one save, though UConn’s defense weathered nine total shots and six corner kicks from Georgetown. Cappadona’s goal was the Huskies’ lone shot on target.
With the win, UConn finishes the regular season at 9-7-1 (5-4-1 Big East). The highest the Huskies can finish is fifth if Providence fails to beat Seton Hall on Thursday night. If the Friars win, UConn will be the sixth seed.
Georgetown came into the game ranked No. 9 nationally in RPI and had already secured second place in the conference.
After a 2-3-0 start to Big East play, UConn closed the regular season by going 3-1-1 over its final five games. The Huskies featured an extremely young squad with freshmen and sophomores accounting for 62 percent of the team’s total minutes while four seniors made up just 10 percent.
It didn’t help that UConn lost senior forward Duda Santin, junior forward Cara Jordan and junior defender Kara Long to season-ending injuries as well.
Although the team struggled at times early in the year, the Huskies’ youngsters started to put it together as the season progressed.
“We’re a young team that’s kind of maturing through the season,” head coach Margaret Rodriguez said after the team’s win over Marquette on Oct. 7. “We’re gonna maybe have some dips, a little inconsistency but our play has been consistent and the results are now starting to fall.”
Bedoya became a bonafide star up top, leading the team in goals (six), assists (four), shots (48) and shots on goal (28). In her first eight games, she recorded just one goal and two assists while putting nine of 21 shots on frame. Over her final eight games, Bedoya had five goals and two assists with 27 shots — 19 of which were on goal.
UConn also found an effective center back pairing of sophomore Chloe Landers and freshman Evelyn Arsenault, who combined to play all but nine minutes during the conference slate. Over the last seven games of the regular season, the Huskies pitched three shutouts, gave up multiple goals just once and conceded five times total.
In goal, Mahoney came into her own after splitting time with freshman MaryKate Ward for much of the season and also dealing with an injury. She became the full-time starter for the last four games, allowing just four goals while making 29 stops — including a herculean 14-save effort against Providence on Oct. 21 that earned her Big East Goalkeeper of the Week.
UConn also likely wouldn’t have made the tournament without a thrilling victory over Creighton on Oct. 14. The Huskies erased a pair of one-goal deficits and tied the game with 15 seconds left in regular before claiming all three points with a game-winner in overtime.
Depending on how the final standings shake out, UConn will either play at Butler or St. John’s in the first round on Sunday, Oct. 31. The semifinals will be held on Thursday, Nov. 4 with the championship game taking place on Sunday, Nov. 7, each on the campus of Xavier.
UConn will need to win the Big East Tournament to receive an auto-bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies entered the final game of the regular season ranked No. 85 in RPI.