Aug. 20, 2014
STORRS, Conn. -- The UConn women's soccer team kicks off the 2014 season this weekend with a pair of home contests at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium. The Huskies will play host to the Hofstra Pride on Friday, Aug. 22 for a 7 p.m. contest before Navy visits on Sunday, Aug. 24 at 1 p.m. The 2014 season marks the 36th for UConn women's soccer and the 34th under Head Coach Len Tsantiris, the second-winningest coach in NCAA Women's Soccer history.
FAN ADVISORY: If you are attending Friday's contest against Hofstra, please be aware that Hillside Road between Glenbrook Road and Jim Calhoun Way will be CLOSED from approximately 5:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. for 2014 Convocation. Please use an alternate route to Morrone Stadium if necessary.
The Huskies were recently tabbed to finish second in The American Athletic Conference preseason poll. Sophomore forward Rachel Hill (Rollinsford, N.H.) earned the league's Preseason Co-Offensive Player of the Year award, and classmate Emily Armstrong (Collegeville, Pa.) was named Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year. UConn returns 19 letterwinners from 2013's 11-9 squad that went 5-4 in league play to finish fourth in The American.
UConn holds an overall record of 23-10-2 in season openers and 26-7-2 in home openers. The last season-opening victory for the Huskies came on Aug. 19, 2012, a 4-2 win over Vermont. A year ago, the Huskies fell, 3-2, in their season opener at home against Wisconsin. UConn has opened the regular season at home each of the last four seasons.
A full season preview with position-by-position breakdowns can be found below.
FORWARDS (eight returning, two newcomers)
The UConn attack will figure to be led in 2014 as it was a year ago by sophomore standout Rachel Hill. During her freshman campaign in 2013, Hill burst onto the scene to the tune of a 13-goal, 31-point season. Her outstanding first spell in Storrs led to a First Team All-American Athletic Conference nod, a spot on the NEWISA All-New England First Team and an All-Rookie laurel from The American. Hill returns in 2014 after competing with the U-20 United States Women's National Team at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. She was also a member of the Stars and Stripes at the 2014 U-20 CONCACAF Championship, tallying a goal and five assists in five games to help the Yanks win the tournament and qualify for the U-20 Cup.
In addition to Hill offensively, UConn can reliably turn to junior Stephanie Ribeiro (Pawtucket, R.I.), who finished second behind Hill with six goals, four assists and 16 points last season. Ribeiro joined Hill on the All-Conference First Team and was an All-New England Third Team member. Back as a starter on the attack as well is fellow junior Samantha McGuire (Fishkill, N.Y.), who started all 20 games for Connecticut in 2013 and scored a goal and dished out three assists. Ribeiro has found the back of the net nine times in her UConn career, while McGuire has notched five career tallies.
Also returning to bolster the attack is redshirt junior Andrea Plucenik (Brooklyn, Conn.), who will aim to regain the form of an outstanding 2012 campaign after an injury limited her to four games last season. In 2012, Plucenik scored five teams and added five assists to finish second on the team with 15 points en route to an All-Conference Third Team nod.
Sophomore Faith McCarthy (Windsor, Conn.) earned a pair of starts during her freshman campaign, as she played in 16 games overall and recorded an assist and eight shots. Other returners at forward include junior Allison Gallo (Tolland, Conn.), redshirt freshman Alexa Keney (Suffield, Conn.) and sophomore Caroline Massey (Guilford, Conn.), who bring valuable game experience and depth to the unit. Freshmen Tanya Altrui (Branford, Conn.) and Brittany Moreau (Belchertown, Mass.) round out the forwards and will look to crack the rotation during their first seasons in Storrs.
MIDFIELDERS (six returning, four newcomers)
Another unit with plenty of experience, UConn returns three players who started at least 10 contests in the midfield and six who played in 18 or more contests. Redshirt senior Julie Hubbard (Waverly, Pa.) returns to anchor the unit after starting all 20 contests last season, during which she recorded four goals and finished third on the on the squad with 65 shots. The Penn State transfer also potted a pair of game-winning goals for the Huskies.
Senior Riley Houle (Columbia, Conn.) provides an offensive punch from the midfield, and her 4g-5a-13p scoring line from a year ago was third on the squad. Overall for her career, Houle has scored 11 goals and dished out eight assists to give her 30 points over 54 games in National Flag Blue and White. Junior Ruby Fee (Nantucket, Mass.) is the third returning starter in the midfield after making 16 starts in 19 total appearances last year to give her 26 career starts.
Juniors Brianna Butler (Rock Tavern, N.Y.) and Miranda Tarpey (Poughuag, N.Y.) combined to appear in all but three contests between them last season, and each made at least four starts in the midfield. Senior Lindsey Watkins (Litchfield, Conn.) is also back to bolster the midfield, with 22 career appearances under her belt. A talented group of newcomers at the position includes versatile Syracuse transfer junior Megan Hunsberger (Bethlehem, Pa.) and freshmen Danielle Gottwik (New Port Richey, Fla.), Noriana Radwan (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.) and Sabrina Toole (Wesport, Conn.).
DEFENDERS (four returning, six newcomers)
Also stocked with returning starters, the UConn back line features four defenders who started nine or more contests a season ago. Leading the way is redshirt sophomore Gabriella Cuevas (Wayne, N.J.), who bounced back from consecutive season-ending injuries to start all 20 contests at center back and led field players with 1,777 minutes in 2013.
Senior Gabrielle Charno (Seaford, N.Y.) provides plenty of experience and some offensive prowess to the back four, with 16 starts in 18 overall appearances last year and 35 career starts in 49 games. Overall in her career, she has fired 22 shots and scored a pair of goals, including a game-winner last season. Classmate Gianna Roma (Foxboro, Mass.) started nine games in 2013, and has started 41 contests in her 49-game career.
JuniorLiana Hinds (Hartford, Conn.) will also return as a starter, after making 11 starts and playing in all 20 contests in 2013. A converted forward, she has played in 34 career games with 21 total shots including 12 on goal. Like Hill, she spent the early part of 2014 at the 2014 U-20 CONCACAF Championship, where she represented Trinidad & Tobago for the second time. Hinds previously scored two goals for Trinidad in the 2010 U-17 Women's World Cup.
Six newcomers on the defense will bolster the Husky defense, with Eastern Kentucky transfer junior Annie Wickett (Frederick, Md.) joining Georgia transfer and redshirt-sophomore Toriana Patterson (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) to give UConn two fresh faces with collegiate experience. Also joining the fray are a quartet of freshmen; Youn-Jae Baek (Avon, Conn.), Emily Maier (Mesa, Ariz.), Breanne Moreau (Belchertown, Mass.) and Sara Rothery (Bellmore, N.Y).
GOALKEEPERS (two returning, one newcomer)
Back to man the cage after a strong freshman season is redshirt-sophomore Emily Armstrong, who started all 20 contests and played all but 31 minutes for the Huskies in 2013. Armstrong was named to The American All-Rookie Team following the season, and was also a NEWISA All-New England First Team member. Overall, Armstrong compiled an 11-9 record with a 1.49 GAA, 68 total saves and six shutouts.
Joining her in the goalkeeping ranks is junior Allison Saucier (Rocky Hill, Conn.), who played in two games in 2013 after starting six times in 2012. Saucier holds a career record of 4-2-1 with a 1.56 GAA. Redshirt-sophomore Kasey O'Brien (Wilton, Conn.) is the third member of the unit, joining UConn from TCU after not appearing in any games in two years with the Horned Frogs.