Hill’s first hat trick leads UConn past Houston
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 00:09
The UConn women’s soccer team earned their second win in the American Athletic Conference on Sunday on a hat trick from freshman forward Rachel Hill in a 4-1 win against Houston in Storrs.
The Huskies (8-4-0, 2-0-0 American) have now won two straight games in the American, defeating Southern Methodist 2-1 in their first conference game on Thursday before beating Houston on Sunday.
The Houston Cougars (1-4-3, 0-2-0 American) earned their second conference loss, after losing on the road to Temple 2-0 on Thursday.
UConn’s offense started strong early on, with sophomore midfielder Samantha McGuire and Hill alternating in shot opportunities throughout the first half.
Hill had a shot in the 27th minute, but came up empty after Houston goalkeeper Cami Koski dove onto the ball to make the save.
The stalemate was ended in the 36th minute, as junior midfielder Riley Houle tapped the ball ahead to Hill, who drove the ball past the diving goalkeeper.
“We had a lot of chances before,” Hill said. “Sooner or later I knew we’d slip one in.”
At the half, UConn lead Houston 18-5 in the shot count.
The Huskies returned to the field in the second half with renewed aggression. The result was their most productive half of the season.
In the 53rd minute, Houle and Hill teamed up again to score another goal for UConn, giving Houle her second assist and Hill her second goal.
Houston, however, was able to respond in the 63rd minute, as junior forward Kelsey Zimora drilled a shot in the top-left corner. Freshman goalkeeper Emily Armstrong tried to make the save, but the ball slipped through and into the net.
With UConn holding a narrow 2-1 lead, the Huskies increased their offensive pressure and scored two major goals midway through the second half.
UConn’s third goal came from Houle, who took advantage of a penalty kick to net the ball on the far side. The fourth goal came from Hill, who cut across the box and placed a curler as high into the top-left corner as physically possible. This was Hill’s first collegiate hat trick.
Coach Len Tsantiris then began a series of substitutions, including pulling Armstrong in the 78th minute to give sophomore goalkeeper Allison Saucier some time on the field. This was Saucier’s second appearance of the season.
UConn finished with a season-high 36 shots to Houston’s seven.
Despite scoring four goals, Tsantiris was still unhappy with the team’s productivity and efficiency. He was concerned that the team was taking too many shots from longer distances, missing opportunities to take higher quality shots in the box.
“The problem is some of the shots,” Tsantiris said. “They were too far away. And the goal that we got … we placed the ball behind them. … That’s what we did several times the second half. … And also, we didn’t make attempts to take them one-on-one the first half.”
Houle echoed the same sentiment, saying she thought the team could have had “a few more” goals, though she credited Houston’s goalkeeper for playing well.
The biggest victory for UConn this weekend comes from starting 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2007, when the Huskies fought their way to the NCAA quarterfinals before losing 3-2 to Florida State in double overtime.
UConn’s next two games are on the road this weekend, where the Huskies will face Central Florida on Friday and South Florida on Sunday.