TAMPA, Fla. – The UConn women’s soccer team used its fourth consecutive shutout and a seventh-minute goal from Rachel Hill to upset top-seed UCF, 1-0, in The American Athletic Conference Championship Semifinals on Friday evening at USF’s Corbett Stadium. The win advances the Huskies to the conference title game and improves their record to 13-4-4 on the year, while UCF drops to 16-4-0.
The goal for Hill (Rollinsford, N.H.), The American Co-Offensive Player of the Year, gave the Huskies an early lead they would not relent, as they pushed the tempo from the outset in the victory. UConn out-shot UCF, 10-7, and held a 4-2 edge in shots on goal. The four straight shutouts for the Huskies mark a first since the 2007, when they recorded four clean sheets in a row from Sept. 21-Oct. 5. It also marked UConn's ninth shutout this season, most since matching that mark in 2010.
Allison Saucier (Rocky Hill, Conn.) started in goal for the Huskies and recorded one save, before Emily Armstrong (Collegeville, Pa.) came on for the second half and also made one save. Connie Organ recorded three stops for the Knights.
The Huskies came out the aggressor earlier, and were rewarded with the game’s first tally in the seventh minute. Lindsey Watkins (Litchfield, Conn.) sent a cross into the box from the right side, and after a deflection Hill was there to bury her league-leading 16th goal of the season.
UConn had a strong look around the 25th minute, when Gabrielle Charno (Seaford, N.Y.) made a long run before a cross into the penalty area for a Julie Hubbard (Waverly, Pa.) bid that was deflected wide. UCF’s Ashley Spivey took aim with the Knights’ first shot on goal in the 33rd minute, but Saucier dove to her left to make the save. The Knights had another look in the 44th minute when Saucier charged a loose ball in the box and forced a wide shot from Tatiana Coleman.
Riley Houle (Columbia, Conn.) used a slick spin move to break free and fire a shot on goal five minutes into the second half, but Organ tipped it aside. Hubbard and Houle had shots from the top of the penalty area blocked in the 75th minute, before the Huskies returned the favor in the 80th with a block on a Megan Fish bid in the box.
The Knights had another dangerous chance in the 85th minute after a throw-in deep in Husky territory before Ashley Spivey spent a shot wide of the cage. UConn was able to continuously clear out UCF chances in the final minutes of the contest, holding on to its one-goal lead and sealing the victory.
The Huskies will next play in the American Athletic Conference Championship title game against the winner of third-seed South Florida and seven-seed East Carolina. The championship game is set for an 11 a.m. start on Sunday, Nov. 9 and will air nationally on ESPNU.