ORLANDO, Fla. — A surge of second half scoring helped the No. 20 UConn women’s soccer team (9-2-0, 1-1-0) to battle back and defeat UCF (6-3-1, 1-1-0) on Sunday, for its first conference win and ninth overall win of the season. Junior Rachel Hill (Rollinsford, N.H.) tallied four points (2g) and senior Samantha McGuire (Fishkill, N.Y.) recorded three (1g, 1a).
It was a relatively action-less first half with very few scoring chances for either team. Each team only registered five shots the entire first half. UCF junior Carol Rodrigues had two promising scoring chances early in the first half for the Knights, but one missed just wide of the net and the other was denied by UConn goalkeeper Emily Armstrong (Collegeville, Pa).
Hill registered three of UConn’s five first-half shots, but they all missed over the net. The only shot on goal in the first half for the Huskies came in the 12th minute from sophomore Sabrina Toole (Westport, Conn.), her first shot this season, but it was saved by UCF goalkeeper Vera Varis.
It appeared the match would go into halftime with no score, but with just over one minute remaining on the clock, UCF’s Kayla Ademek crossed the ball into the box where Morgan Ferrara was waiting to head it past Armstrong to take a late 1-0 lead going into the break.
The Huskies were really feeling the Orlando heat and humidity, which allowed UCF to come out controlling the play in the first five minutes of the second half. The rhythm of the game drastically changed in the 58th minute when freshman Kim Urbanek (Lonnerstadt, Germany) launched a rocket of a shot right on target, forcing Varis to dive to make the save.
Minutes later the Huskies got on the board when Hill netted the equalizer after she buried the ball high over the head of Varis to tie the game up 1-1 in 60th minute.
UConn was awarded a penalty kick in the 70th minute after a UCF handball. McGuire took the shot for the Huskies but Varis came up with a huge save for the Knights where she knocked the ball away and it deflected off the post to keep the score tied 1-1.
UCF took the lead again less than two minutes later in the 72nd minute when Carol Rodrigues tapped the ball past Armstrong off a cross from Hannah Debose. The Huskies then trailed the Knights 2-1 with less than 20 minutes remaining in the match.
The Knights’ lead was short-lived after McGuire capitalized in the 79th minute off of a cornerkick taken by junior Stephanie Ribeiro (Pawtucket, R.I.), who recorded two assists this game. McGuire headed the ball from 14 yards out down onto the turf where it scooted past Varis to tie the game up at 2-2.
Soon after, the Huskies took the lead for the first and final time in the 81st minute when Hill netted her second of the game, off a give and go between her and McGuire. This brought Hill’s total to eight goals this season, after not having scored since the Army game.
UConn outshot UCF 13-12 and 7-5 shots on target. Armstrong and Varis both pulled out pivotal saves to keep the score close. Varis recorded four saves for the Knights and Armstrong tallied three for the Huskies.
The Huskies finally return home for their next three matches starting with Temple on Friday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. at Morrone Stadium.