Women’s Soccer: Huskies Take Victory at Senior Night; fail in the heartthrob of the Big East Tournament against St. John’s

10/27/2022 WSOC vs. Seton Hall, by Erin Knapp, Photo Editor. The UConn women’s soccer team defeated Seton Hall 3-0 in their senior night game on October 27, 2022 at Morrone Stadium. With that win at their last home game of the season, the Huskies secured a spot in the BIG EAST championship.

The (8-6-3, 4-4-2) Huskies asserted their early dominance against the (5-10-3, 1-8-1) Seton Hall Pirates as they wrapped up their regular season Thursday night.

Seniors Jessica Mazo, Kara Long, Emma Zaccagnini, Cara Jordan, Jackie Harnett and Duda Santin were honored before the game. While it was Senior Night, freshman forward Chioma Okafor stole the show early on.

It took Okafor little time to put Connecticut ahead in the opening minutes of the game. In the sixth minute, Okafor placed a right-footed shot in the bottom right corner after an assist from striker Jada Konte. Just ten minutes later, she was able to find the back of the net again with a service from Abbey Jones and Jordan. Okafor was the only scorer of the half as the Huskies went 2-0 at halftime.

After half-time, it was only around five minutes before the newcomer resumed her scoring campaign when she scored a third goal in the 51st minute when defender Jackie Harnett drilled a free-kick into the box which was brought down by Seton Hall, herself but recovered from UConn where Okafor sent another right foot shot into the bottom left corner.

Seton Hall struggled throughout the game to find any kind of momentum and his stat line also showed his season-long struggles. UConn passed Seton Hall 19 to eight, creating four more corners than Seton Hall.

Konte crowned the goal as she scored in the 62nd minute. Assisted by Jordan and Jones, Konte shot his left foot into the net to make it 4-0. With that win, the Huskies secured sixth place in the Big East Tournament and played third place against St. John’s in Queens on Sunday (7-4-6, 4-2-3).

From the first whistle to the final, this game was nothing short of what the postseason is about. The intensity of the game was high from the start as both sides wasted no time in aiming and creating opportunities. Senior Jordan struck quickly when she fired a shot in the second minute of the game. Mazo followed suit when she fired a shot that went wide in the eighth minute. Connecticut was first with many 50/50 balls and stole second chance opportunities from St. John’s for most of the first half. St. John’s also had dominant moments and the game remained scoreless in the first half.

In a much longer second half, the Huskies stayed hungry as they battled to get first on the scoreboard and managed well as they contained Johnnie’s field general Jessica Garziano. The senior midfielder, who has had 17 shots on target this season, has been a consistency for Red Storm, which can be attributed to her keen vision of the field and ability to create space off the ball. As the time drew ever closer and the score still stood at 0-0, the trajectory of the game changed as Okafor continued her torturous run from Thursday when she headed into the box from a beautifully served ball from second-year defender Laci sent Lewis in the 52nd minute. With a 1-0 lead, the Huskies, now in the driving seat, continued to push towards goal, knowing St John’s wouldn’t go away and a second goal for a good measure would be ideal. However, the Red Storm recovered quickly when, just 17 minutes later, in the 70th minute of the game, older striker Isabella Aviza scored from an assist by junior midfielder Ava Collins.

In a 1-1 draw with just 20 minutes left in regular play, both teams desperately made their last-ditch efforts to end the game and avoid extra time, but that would not be the case. A scary moment came late in the dying minutes when solid junior defender Chloe Landers got caught in a scrum as she fended off a shot attempt that saw both her and the St John’s player down. Landers leads the team in minutes played for the Huskies this season, who logged 1496 minutes before they came into this game and only played 34 total minutes all season. After a few moments, Landers grimacing and tending to her left knee, she was able to get to her feet, test her cut and stay on the field.

Two ten-minute overtimes were next on deck as both teams were still in the hunt for another goal. With both teams not backing down and looking for an answer, there was a moment when St. John’s almost went ahead after scoring a second goal, but was ruled offside on further review. After 110 minutes, after both teams failed to take the lead, a penalty shootout would determine the winner. The Huskies had a valiant effort in the shootout but ultimately couldn’t make it and lost 4-2.

St. John’s will take on No. 2 seed Xavier in Maryland on Thursday. That loss leads to the end of the Huskies season, where they finish 8-6-4 and 4-4-2 in conference play, but the future is bright, especially with what the roster has in newcomer Okafor.

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