UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The UConn women’s soccer team dropped a 1-0 decision at No. 8 Penn State in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship second round on Friday night at Jeffrey Field. The loss ends the season for the Huskies with a 14-5-5 record, while the Nittany Lions improve to 19-3-0 and advance to the third round of the Championship.
UConn, the 2014 American Athletic Conference Champion, bowed out of its 29th NCAA Tournament appearance after returning to the field this year for the first time since 2010. Each appearance has come under 34-year head coach Len Tsantiris, whose all-time record at Connecticut now stands at 525-185-55.
The Huskies were out-shot 19-10 overall on the match, but shots on goal were even at five apiece. Julie Hubbard (Waverly, Pa.) led UConn with three shots on target, and Riley Houle (Columbia, Conn.) had a pair of attempts on goal. Penn State generated nine corners to UConn’s one.
Allison Saucier (Rocky Hill, Conn.) played the first half in goal and made two saves, giving way in the second half for Emily Armstrong (Collegeville, Pa.) who also made two stops. Armstrong finished the season not allowing a goal over her final 10 appearances, a stretch spanning a total of 500 scoreless minutes. Britt Eckerstrom made five saves for the Nittany Lions.
Penn State got on the board in the seventh minute, capitalizing on some early pressure. Kori Chapic sent a long lob deep into the box, where Fannie Crouse chased it down for a header on the far post tucked past Saucier for a 1-0 lead. The goal was the first UConn allowed in seven matches and snapped a streak of 612 consecutive minutes without allowing a tally.
Megan Hunsberger (Bethlehem, Pa.) generated a chance for the Huskies in the 18th minute when she floated a cross deep into the box, but a PSU defender and the UConn attackers got tangled and the ball rolled out of bounds. The Huskies tried to create off a counter following a Penn State corner in the 33rd minute, before Liana Hinds (Hartford, Conn.) sent a touch into the box that Eckerstrom corralled.
Hunsberger sent into another dangerous cross early in the second half in the 47th minute, leading to a shot for Andrea Plucenik (Brooklyn, Conn.) that was popped up and snagged. Raquel Rodriguez made a bid for Penn State in the 57th minute that appeared destined for the near post before Armstrong dove and punched it out of play. The chance was part of a series of five corner kicks for the Nittany Lions in a two-minute span, but the Huskies thwarted each attempt to keep it a one-goal game.
UConn had a good look in the 72nd minute when Houle took aim for a shot from about 22 yards out, but it was saved by a leaping Eckerstrom. Hubbard made a bid from the tip of the penalty area in the 78th minute that was saved, and a minute later Samantha McGuire (Fishkill, N.Y.) and Rachel Hill (Rollisnford, N.H.) each had shots deep in the box sail over the crossbar.
The Huskies pushed forward late, appearing to have chance in the 87th minute with a ball in the box that couldn’t reach Hill before it was cleared away. Penn State held on in the final moments, becoming only the fourth team this season to shut out UConn.
The Huskies conclude the regular season with the aforementioned 14-5-5 record.
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