Heading into conference play, UConn women’s soccer’s isn’t where it would’ve hoped to be. The Huskies rounded out their non-conference play with a 3-2-2 record, falling to teams like Harvard and Yale while coming to draws against Buffalo and Army. They also sit at No. 118 in the RPI rankings.
Yet despite what the record would indicate, UConn has proven to be a dominant force in almost every game. The Huskies notched convincing victories against Marist (5-0), Boston University (2-0), and New Hampshire (2-0) while outshooting all but one opponent.
But as Big East play gets underway, UConn has much to improve on — namely its shooting and finishing.
Despite putting up 133 shots throughout their first seven games (19.0 per game, 16th-most in the nation), the Huskies only scored 11 goals in that span (1.6 per game), which ranks in the bottom half of the nation.
Part of that is due to a lack of accuracy: Out of the 133 shots, only 54 have been on goal for the team, meaning more than half of their shots have failed to make the goalkeeper work. While the high volume of shots is a positive sign for the Huskies considering their offensive struggles in past seasons, they need to improve the quality of their takes. And even when they get good looks, they often struggle to finish when given the opportunity.
UConn’s 2-0 victory over Creighton in its Big East opener on Thursday is the perfect example. The Huskies had no problem generating dangerous chances inside the box but failed to put them away. They didn’t get on the board until the 38th minute when Joyce Ryder unleashed a screamer from 35 yards out that tucked under the crossbar.
Joyce From Longgggg Range, 'Skies Lead!!! pic.twitter.com/fvEHfvMQOY— UConn Women's Soccer (@UConnWSOC) September 21, 2023
Even though UConn secured its best win of the season according to RPI — Creighton was 46th, third-best in the Big East — it could’ve done so by an even wider margin if it capitalized on more of its chances.
While the Huskies’ offense is still a work in progress, their defense has powered the team. Compared to UConn’s 13 total goals, opponents have only scored four in eight contests —good for a 0.50 goals against average that’s tied for 17th-best in the country. The Huskies have been in every game and the two losses against Harvard and Yale were each decided by a single goal — a close margin that could be fixed with better shooting and finishing.
With a more potent offense, the Huskies could easily be in the NCAA Tournament picture. Now that Big East play is underway, UConn needs to finish in the final third to score more goals, especially in those crucial moments late.
The Huskies are a good team with a strong foundation and identity. But in order to become a great team that can contend for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2016, they need to put the ball in the back of the net on a more consistent basis.