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Women’s Soccer: Huskies drop preseason opener to Boston College

By Kyle Constable, Staff Writer

A second-half fireworks show negated a quiet start as UConn women’s soccer fell to Boston College 2-1 in their first preseason game at Morrone Stadium Monday night.

Two goals in a five-minute span from Boston College’s Hayley Dowd erased a 1-0 Huskies lead in the final 10 minutes.

Despite the loss, head coach Len Tsantiris felt confident about his team’s performance, especially given that many of the starters did not play a full 90 minutes.

“We used a lot of young kids,” Tsantiris said following the loss. “I wanted to see the younger kids, what they can do. Can they play?”

His assessment?

“They did fine. We competed.”

While the younger Huskies might have given away the lead, the veteran core that made up UConn’s 2014 squad powered them to a 1-0 lead.

Junior forward Rachel Hill broke the stalemate with a shot in 67th minute, driving past the defense and landing the ball in the far side of the net. Senior forward Samantha McGuire was credited with the assist in a pass that Hill described as “a great ball through, a perfect ball.”

“It makes it easy for me,” Hill added.

Coming off an American Athletic Conference tournament championship last year and a 14-5-5 record, everyone admits they feel the bar is set high for this season.

“This is just the beginning,” sophomore midfielder Danielle Gottwik said. “We definitely want to win the conference tournament again, but also the regular season.”

Tsantiris echoed the sentiment, but cautioned that the team cannot focus too much on the road ahead, instead focusing on the challenges in front of them now.

“We’ve got to prove ourselves every game,” Tsantiris said. “We’re not looking ahead. … Just play, fight and learn to win.”

Part of that process is developing better communication on the field. Gottwik believed the most significant weakness in Monday’s matchup was a lack of communication.

“You can never talk enough,” Gottwik said. “Just knowing where everyone is, what they’re doing, what your teammates need – you can never be ‘good enough’ at that.”

Shots did not come easy for either side in the first half, but Boston College had a pair of quality looks that just missed the net.

The offense opened up in the 20th minute when UConn sophomore forward Faith McCarthy launched a rocket from 30 yards at the goal. Boston College goalkeeper Leah Settipane’s diving save proved to be the only force powerful enough to deflect it.

The Eagles had arguably their best look of the night in the 26th minute, when Dowd’s open shot in the box broke wide on the near side.

In the 40th minute, UConn earned a free kick just outside the box, but it was quickly smothered by Boston College’s defense.

Looking for to take a lead going into the half, the Eagles tried to net a corner kick in the 45th minute, but the Huskies cleared it to keep it tied at halftime.

Tsantiris’ starters came out swinging in the second half, looking to score early. In the 53rd minute, McCarthy crossed to Hill right in front of net, but a diving Hill just missed heading it in on the far side.

Two corner kicks for the Huskies followed in the 56th and 57th minutes, but UConn once again failed to capitalize.

After 62 minutes, Tsantiris pulled starting goalkeeper junior Emily Armstrong, who was last year’s preseason conference goalkeeper of the year ­– and is a contender for the same recognition this fall. Tsantiris replaced her with senior Allison Saucier, who started 21 games in 2014.

Hill finally broke through with her goal in the 67th minute; but after underclassmen began replacing many of the starters in the final 15 minutes, Boston College was able to mount one last offensive effort.

The Eagles earned a free kick in the 81st minute from 35 yards out, but a beautiful chip into the box was jettisoned wide to the far side.

Boston College would bounce back from their misstep in the 82nd minute on an equalizer from Dowd, who drove into the box and scored at point blank range.

The crowd seemed content with a 1-1 tie, but the Eagles were not having any of it. Dowd navigated through the younger defenders once again and launched a shot from 10 yards out to give Boston College a 2-1 lead in the 87th minute.

Even though some lapses from the underclassmen cost the Huskies the game, their teammates had nothing but praise for the young players’ work ethic.

“The freshman coming in, they’re a really good group,” Hill said. “They’re really stepping up. They know that they need to go hard and change their level of play.”

UConn will play one more preseason game on Friday at 7 p.m. in Storrs – this time against the University of Montreal – before kicking off the regular season at home on Friday, Aug. 21 against Colgate.

Criminal Cyber-Intrusion Infects UConn Engineering Servers

The UConn Engineering department recently acknowledged a “criminal cyber intrusion” in their servers. The data breach, suspected to have originated from China, may have exposed personal information, but officials have not reached consensus on the extent of exploited information.

The first data breach, traced back to September 2013, went undetected and “opened the door” for malware to be inserted into the UConn Engineering computer network said Tom Breen, a spokesperson for the UConn Engineering Department.

“These types of things have become more and more common,” Breen said, “universities have to be vigilant and proactive to protect our resources from harmful intruders.

UConn IT professionals, working with outside specialists, deduced that the attacks originated in China based off of the type of malware. Officials said that personally identifiable information might have been compromised, but cannot say decisively either way.

“We noticed the malware in March of this year,” Breen continued, “Part of the challenge of going back is that we don’t have all of the information before a certain point.”

“We don’t have any direct knowledge that any data was taken out at all, but we’re assuming that it was, and we’re taking steps to up our security to be on the safe side.”

The F.B.I. and State Attorney general were notified in response to the cyber attacks.

UConn is “taking steps to further secure our systems,” said Vice-Provost and Chief Information Officer at UConn, Michael Mundrane, in a public statement.

The vulnerable point in the servers was patched, all passwords were reset, and all servers that were compromised were decommissioned and rebuilt.

“Hopefully we can come up with some new policies that will make us stronger and better prepared for cyber attacks like this in the future,” Breen said.

New policies will likely university-wide and will likely take effect during the 2015-2016 academic year.

UConn Highlights from 2015 American Kickoff

Newport, R.I.— The American Athletic Conference kicked off the 2015-16 football season Tuesday with its third annual Media Day. To begin the day, the conference released the preseason media poll, where Cincinnati received 22 of a possible 30 votes to win the inaugural American Athletic Conference championship game.

The Bearcats were also the favorites to win the East division, while Memphis beat out Houston and Navy as the West division favorite. UConn was picked to finish last in the East division. This season marks the first year with two divisions due to the addition of Navy as a football-only member of the American.

Diaco has high hopes for new season

Despite being predicted to finish last in the conference, UConn football head coach Bob Diaco has high hopes for his second season with the Huskies.

“I didn’t read it. I don’t care. It has nothing to do with what I’m doing. Zero,” Diaco said of the media poll. “Everything is going to be done better at a higher level.”

Diaco has taken the positives away from last year’s 2-10 season and used them as a foundation to build off of as the Huskies take on one of the 25 hardest schedules in the country. Even with the difficult schedule, Diaco believes his team is talented enough to compete with the best in the country.

“We’re going to win every game,” Diaco said. “We’re going to play as one of the four teams in the playoffs and win a national championship. And how are we going to do it? We’re going to focus on today.”

Big Expectations for wide receiver Noel Thomas

Coming off a 26-catch, four-touchdown season, junior Noel Thomas comes into the 2015 season as the projected No. 1 receiver. After working hard in the offseason, the Norwalk, Connecticut native seems to be on the verge of a breakout season.

“I’ve watched this guy. This guy is making an investment, and I’ve been around great receivers and he looks like one of them,” Diaco said of Thomas. “If he’s not one of the most dominant wide receivers in the country, then shame on him.”

The Huskies will need a strong season from Thomas to fill the void of Geremy Davis and Deshon Foxx, who finished first and second respectively in receptions last year. Dhameer Bradley and tight ends Tommy Myers and Alec Bloom also figure to be integral parts of UConn’s passing game.

Adams, Melifonwu look to lead UConn defense

The UConn defense was a bright spot for the Huskies last season, and this year looks to be no different even with the loss of former captain and current Dallas Cowboy Byron Jones.

Last season, redshirt senior Andrew Adams and redshirt junior Obi Melifonwu were major contributors in a UConn defense that ranked No. 36 in the country in passing yards allowed per game.

“We’ve been together for three years. Our chemistry is unreal. We hang out together off the field…knowing that he has my back and I have his back, that goes a long way,” Adams said about his relationship with Melifonwu. “We just look to improve from last year and be one of the best safety duos in the country.”

Adams and Melifonwu combined for 171 tackles last season, with Adams adding a team-high four interceptions and a fumble return for a touchdown. Melifonwu successfully broke up three passes last season, good for second on the team amongst returning players.

“The safeties are the best tandem in the country,” Diaco said. “Tell me a better one.”

 

Shirreffs leads quarterback battle

Heading into the first practices of fall, North Carolina State transfer Bryant Shirreffs has an early lead in the race to become UConn’s starting quarterback. After a strong showing during the spring season, the job will be Shirreffs to lose once practice start this Thursday.

“Bryant’s going to run predominantly with that one offense,” Diaco said. “Everybody is going to get a chance to their wears, and we’re going to play the best players.”

Tim Boyle and junior college transfer Garrett Anderson figure to be the most likely challengers to Shirreffs. Freshmen Tyler Davis and Brandon Bisack are in the mix as well.

Boyle threw one touchdown and three interceptions last season in nine games for the Huskies and has the size and skill to pry the job away from Shirreffs with strong showings in practice. Anderson’s experience at the junior-college level could give him an edge as well, either as a starter or the No. 2 slot.

Diaco will name the starter two weeks before the Sept. 3 season opener against Villanova.

Civil Conflict

One of the biggest stories in the American Athletic Conference this offseason was the Civil Conflict trophy, which was created by Diaco to be awarded to the winner of the Central Florida-UConn game. After taking the internet by storm, Diaco elaborated on the creation of the Civil Conflict trophy and its intentions.

“That was created out of respect for their program and coaches,” Diaco said. “The targeting of that program was the beginning for our team…this is a great program. Coach O’Leary runs a program the way I love a football program to be run, and he’s created one of the best football programs in the country and the best in our conference.”

After defeating UCF 37-29 at Rentschler Field last season, Diaco and the Huskies will take the Civil Conflict trophy down to Orlando to take on the Knights Oct. 10.

 

DC Quick Hits – August 3, 2015

Here are some of the latest happenings in UConn sports:

Larin Ties MLS Rookie Scoring Record

Cyle Larin scored twice to lead Orlando City to a 5-1 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday. Larin now has 11 goals in his rookie season. With two goals, Larin tied former UConn star Damani Ralph for the MLS rookie-scoring record. Ralph set the record in 25 games in 2003. Larin tied the record in just 15 games and is currently fourth in the MLS in scoring.

Men’s Hockey Releases 2015-16 Schedule

The UConn men’s hockey team announced their full 2015-16 schedule this past week as they begin their second season in Hockey East. The Huskies open the season Oct. 9 with an away series at Alabama-Huntsville and play their first home game Oct. 19 at the XL Center against Arizona State.

Adams and Knappe To Represent UConn At American Summer Kickoff

On Tuesday, the American Athletic Conference football media day for the upcoming 2015 season will be held in Newport, Rhode Island. Among those attending for UConn will be head coach Bob Diaco, redshirt senior safety Andrew Adams and redshirt junior offensive tackle Andreas Knappe.

KML Learning What WNBA Game Is About

Since being selected by the Seattle Storm with the No. 3 pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has struggled to adjust to WNBA competition. The NCAA career leader in 3-pointers has shot just 28.6 percent from three and is averaging 2.9 points per game in her rookie season with the Storm.

Jakob Nerwinski Invited to USMNT U-23 Training Camp

Last Tuesday, it was announced that UConn junior Jake Nerwinski was invited to attend the U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team training camp in Carson, California from August 5-8. Nerwinski will join 28 other players that will vie for a spot for the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in October. Nerwinski will be a captain for the UConn team hoping to get back to the NCAA tournament in 2015.