Women's Soccer Welcomes Wisconsin & No. 2 Stanford to Open Season

Rachel Hill and the Huskies open the regular season on Friday

Rachel Hill and the Huskies open the regular season on Friday

Aug 22, 2013

STORRS, Conn.- The University of Connecticut women’s soccer team opens the 2013 regular season this weekend  when the Huskies welcome Wisconsin on Friday, August 23 at 7 p.m. and host No. 2 Stanford on Sunday, August 25 at 6 p.m. The pair of games will be broadcasted live on WHUS and streamed live on HuskyVision.  For information on tickets to this weekend’s games visit uconnhuskies.com/tickets or call 1-877-288-2666.

Below is the 2013 season preview:

Connecticut ended its 2012 season at 9-8-1, reaching the Quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship before falling to No. 16 Marquette, 4-1. The Huskies look poised for a big run in 2013 as they head into the season with 18 returning letterwinners and nine talented newcomers.

Forwards
With the loss of Danielle Schulmann, the team’s leading scorer, the Huskies will turn to an influx of youth to lead the offense. Redshirt sophomore Andrea Plucenik burst onto the scene last season, tallying 15 points on five goals and five assists, and playing in all 19 games for Connecticut. The 5-5 Brooklyn, Conn. native connected for four goals in conference play and registered a hat trick in a 5-1 win against St. John’s on September 16th.

UConn will also turn to sophomores Samantha McGuire (Fishkill, N.Y.) and Stephanie Ribeiro (Pawtucket, R.I), as well as junior Riley Houle (Columbia, Conn.), to carry the load on offense.  McGuire started in 15 games last season and registered nine points on four goals and one assist. Ribeiro intrigued the coaches last fall, scoring three goals and earning three assists in limited action.  Houle enters her junior year primed for another stellar season, as she led all offensive players with a .591 shot-on-goal percentage last season.

Also vying for playing time are sophomores Allison Gallo (Tolland Conn.) and Liana Hinds (Hartford, Conn.), and freshmen Alexa Kenney (Suffield, Conn.), Caroline Massey (Guilford, Conn)., and Faith McCarthy (Windsor, Conn.)

“The strength of our attacking personnel should be in both the individual qualities of the players and how they complement each other, but also in the relative depth of the group,” stated head coach Len Tsantiris.

Midfield
Connecticut’s midfield is made up of a group of versatile players and is anchored by a strong veteran presence. Senior Jennifer Skogerboe (Leesburg, Va.) has been a mainstay in the Husky lineup since her freshman year in 2010, making 50 starts in 51 appearances. The 5-6 right-footed player led all midfielders with six goals and one assist last season. Also returning is senior Devin Prendergast who created matchup problems for opponents last season because of her ability to score from distance.

The Huskies will be aided by the return of redshirt junior Julie Hubbard, who missed all of last season due to injury. Hubbard, who scored a goal and dished out an assist in five games in 2011, provides the Huskies with a dual threat option, as she possesses quick feet and displays good instincts on defense. With the departure of Linda Ruutu, playing time is opened up for returners Ruby Fee (Nantucket, Mass.), Miranda Tarpey (Poughquag, N.Y.), Brianna Butler (Rock Tavern, N.Y.), and  Lindsey Watkins (Litchfield, Conn.). Watkins, who played in three games last season, spent time this spring learning to master the midfield position, but also has experience as an attacker which will give Tsantiris a chance to expose slower defenses.

The new Husky midfielders, Natalie Krygier (Novi, Mich.) and Molly Warren (Warwick, N.Y.) should benefit from the veteran core and figure to earn important minutes this season in the early part of the fall.

“The position is unique in that there are many very well-rounded players that are capable of excelling at multiple positions, and many players that have played multiple positions in their careers here already,” said Tsantiris. “This should allow us to play the type of possession-based, attacking soccer that UConn is known for.”

Defense
The UConn defense will be faced with the tall task of replacing graduated seniors Karen Gurnon and Danielle Dakin this season, but the coaching staff feels the new crop of freshmen could quickly make their impact felt. Connecticut limited opponents to 37 goals on defense last season, including just 92 total shots in the first half of games in 2012.

The Connecticut back line will be led by juniors Gabrielle Charno (Seaford, N.Y.) and Gianna Roma (Foxboro, Mass.). Charno started all 19 games for the Huskies, registering 1,724 minutes while Roma started in 18 contests, racking up 1,273 minutes of action.  Redshirt freshman Gabby Cuevas (Wayne, N.J.) provides the coaching staff with another depth option who understands the system.

Newcomers Kate Kormushoff (Hinsdale, Ill.) and  Katie Smith (Glastonbury, Conn.) have a huge opportunity to win playing time early this season, as the outside back position is now up for grabs. The two freshmen should provide good competition on the field and have a chance to become starters by season’s end.

“Adding a number of quality newcomers to the mix should also provide good competition for places on the field,” Tsantiris commented. “This fall we are looking for a little more consistency from game to game.”

Goalkeepers
Connecticut used a rotation at goalkeeper last season, as three players had at least five starts. Allison Saucier (Rocky Hill, Conn.) returns for her sophomore campaign, after seeing action in eight games last year. Saucier allowed 11 goals and made 23 saves in 635:28 minutes, and boasted a .676 save percentage in the net.  Also joining the Huskies is Emily Armstrong, who transferred from Boston College last year, and is the tallest goalkeeper on the roster at 5-9.