GREENVILLE, N.C. – Samantha McGuire scored a golden goal game-winner in the final minute of the first overtime period to lead UConn past East Carolina, 2-1, on Thursday night at Johnson Soccer Stadium. The victory came in The American Athletic Conference opener for both teams, as UConn improves to 8-2-1 overall on the season and East Carolina drops to 6-3-1.
With the win, the Huskies have won both of their conference openers during their time in The American. Overall in first league games, the Huskies are 17-4-0 dating back to 1994.
Connecticut fell behind midway through the second half before Riley Houle (Columbia, Conn.) found an equalizer in the 70th minute. McGuire (Fishkill, N.Y.) scored the game-winner in the 100th minute, tallying with 41 seconds remaining in the contest’s first overtime period. Andrea Plucenik (Brooklyn, Conn.) assisted on both goals.
Overall for the match, the Huskies held a 15-11 edge in shots with a 9-4 advantage in shots on goal. Erika Lenns made seven saves for the Pirates, while Allison Saucier (Rocky Hill, Conn.) and Emily Armstrong (Collegeville, Pa.) continued to share time in goal for the Huskies and combined to make three stops.
UConn’s best early chance came in the ninth minute, when Liana Hinds (Hartford, Conn.) got a look in the box for a shot on goal that was saved by ECU’s Lenns. The Huskies earned their first corner of the match in the 26th minute, but after Hinds served in the set piece Lenns was able to corral a loose ball and negate the threat.
Danielle Gottwik (New Port Richey, Fla.) nearly got the Huskies on the board in the 37th minute, curling in a free kick on target from 22 yards out that Lenns tipped away. The match went to halftime scoreless, with UConn holding a 4-1 edge in shots in the opening 45 minutes.
The Pirates broke through for the game’s first goal in the 58th minute. After a shot by Lexi Herring rang the cross bar, Lana Spitler raced in to collect the rebound and punched home her third goal of the year.
UConn picked up its equalizer in the 70th minute. McGuire started the scoring play when she made a great run into the box and fired a shot that Lenns saved. The rebound went to the foot of Plucenik, who sent it across the box to an awaiting Houle for a blast into the back of the net.
In the 84th minute, Megan Hunsberger (Bethlehem, Pa.) created a chance by sending in a cross to Alexa Keney (Suffield, Conn.), but Keney’s shot was stuffed by Lenns. Neither team could find a winner in regulation as the contest went to extra time.
Gottwik made a bid for the Huskies at the tail end of the first overtime period, skipping a shot on goal in the 99th minute that was saved. Not a minute later, UConn found its dramatic winner. Plucenik ripped a shot from the left that deflected off the crossbar, and McGuire fought her way to the rebound to head home her fourth goal of the season and her team-high third game-winner.
Up next, UConn continues American Athletic Conference play with a trip to Cincinnati on Sunday, Sept. 28. Kick-off against the Bearcats is set for 12 p.m.