Women’s soccer looks to continue win streak
Published: Friday, October 4, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 4, 2013 00:10
The UConn women’s soccer team is traveling to Florida to play American Athletic Conference rivals Central Florida on Friday and South Florida on Sunday in what could be the team’s most challenging weekend in the conference this season.
The Huskies (8-4-0, 2-0-0 American) started their conference schedule last weekend, notching a pair of wins against Southern Methodist and Houston in Storrs.
UConn defeated both teams handedly, winning 2-1 and 4-1, respectively, with a total of 64 shots. The Huskies have not started 2-0 in conference play since 2007, when the team played its way to the NCAA quarterfinals.
However, UConn is about to play two games that will likely determine where they will finish in the American this season.
The Huskies will face No. 24 Central Florida (8-2-1, 1-0-0 American) on Friday evening and South Florida (5-2-3, 0-1-0 American) on Sunday afternoon.
In the preseason conference poll, the UCF Knights were projected to finish in first place in the American while the USF Bulls were projected to finish in fifth. UConn, coming off a 9-8-2 season, was projected to finish in fourth place.
The Knights have not lost since Sept. 1, when they played then-No. 3 Florida State in tight 1-0 overtime loss. The Bulls, on the other hand, dropped their conference opener 2-1 to UCF last weekend.
UConn is well aware of the challenging weekend ahead in Florida, facing Central Florida for the first time since 1994 and a South Florida team that defeated the Huskies last season.
Freshman forward Rachel Hill described the Huskies’ trip south as a “big weekend” for the team and said that they are hoping to come back to Storrs with two more wins.
“It’s difficult playing away,” coach Len Tsantiris said about his team’s prospects this weekend. “It’s a young team. If I had a little bit more experienced players, I would be a more (confident). … We are going to have to work very hard. They’re very good teams, those two.”
Tsantiris said his team just has to keep winning, including in this weekend’s games, if they hope to see the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010.
Junior midfielder Riley Houle echoed Tsantiris’ thoughts, saying it was important for the team to “keep it going” in crucial road games and build on the 2-0 start in the conference.
UConn received nine votes in the national poll this week, placing them unofficially in a tie for No. 32 with Maryland. Of the Huskies’ four losses this season, two of them came against top-10 teams while the other two came against teams that have been nationally ranked at least once this season.
“We’ll have to play the way we’ve been playing (to win this weekend),” Tsantiris said. “They fight for every ball, and we’ll find ways to win.”