In the season opener for both teams, the UConn women’s soccer team kicked off the 2015 campaign with a, 4-1, thumping of the visiting Raiders of Colgate Friday evening at the Joseph J Morrone Stadium in Storrs. Pre-Season Offensive Player of the Year Rachel Hill scored the opening goal of the game midway through the first half, added a second half score and assist as the Huskies won in convincing fashion.
Despite slippery conditions and tough footing after a soaking afternoon rain, the Huskies relentless offensive pressure right out of the gate kept the Colgate (0-1) defense on their heels. Six different Huskies combined to take twelve first half shots while the UConn defense held the Raider offense to only three shot attempts by the break. When it is was all said and done UConn unleashed a blistering 30 shots attempts to Colgate’s eight.
The first half pressure paid off as UConn (1-0) struck first at the 28:40 mark with Hill notching her first goal of the season on a baseline cross from the right side by Megan Hunsberger. With the defense focused on Hunsberger, Hill was able sneak in uncontested from the left wing with only goalie Erin Cummings to beat.
Despite the Huskies offensive dominance it would be the only goal of the half.
After the break, Hill, also named to the American Athletic Conference Pre-Season All-Conference team, recorded her second goal on an assist from Liana Hinds in the 52nd minute. Hinds’ entry pass came from just outside the box on the right side to Hill who was perfectly centered for the finish.
On her two goal effort Hill was quick to credit her teammates saying, “(My teammates) heads are always up. They’re always looking for that perfect ball through. The do a great job finding those tiny slots in the defense. They always hit them and do a great job with that.”
The 2-0 lead was short-lived as Raider midfielder Eliza Doll took advantage of a miscommunication in front of the UConn net depositing the ball in the goal for an unassisted score just over two minutes later.
Hill gave UConn breathing room again, this time off the pass, finding junior midfielder, Maddie Damm, 25 yards out. Damm, who transferred from Syracuse, took the pass and drilled a twisting acrobatic shot passed the diving Cummings, into the right corner, pushing the lead back out to 3-1.
On playing and scoring in her UConn debut Damm said, “It’s unreal. It feels great.”
Danielle Gottwik capped the scoring with an unassisted shot in the 83rd minute.
UConn Coach Len Tsantiris, in his 35th year at the helm, said of the win, “The bottom line is, we had plenty of opportunities to get goals and we got four. Which is great. We didn’t really give much. (Colgate) had a great (goal) on our mistake. That was primarily it.”
UConn, picked to finish first in the AAC pre-season coaches poll, is not only focused on the regular season crown, but the conference tournament championship and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
It all starts with game one and Tsantiris talked about the importance of taking the season opener, “(The win) is good for our mentality. The kids are competing. All we want to do is fight every game and compete every game.”
UConn hits the road for its next two contests, with a trip to Georgetown, followed by a visit at Navy.
Said Tsantiris of the two match road swing, “That’s a big test because playing away is tough these days. We’ll see if we can win (on the road). That’s the key. Both those teams are pretty good teams.”
UConn returns home to Storrs to host Syracuse for a Thursday, 5 p.m. matchup on Sept. 3.