NEW BRITAIN - After just two shots on goal in the first half by her team, St. Johnâ€™s leading scorer Christina Bellero got a header opportunity early in the second half and put it past UConn goalkeeper Mollie Kerrigan for the only goal of the game in a 1-0 Red Storm victory on Friday afternoon in the first game of a four-team doubleheader at CCSU.
â€śThey were coming at us hard in the first half and I knew that we needed one early and if I got one that it would pump up our entire team,â€ť Bellero said.
UConn dominated all phases of the game, but could not find a way to put the ball by St. Johnâ€™s goalkeeper Jordan Kamp.
Kamp had a fantastic game in net with 10 saves, six coming in the second half. The game ended right in front of her net with swarms of blue Huskies jerseys around her.
â€śShe played amazing,â€ť Bellero said. â€śI thought she saved us a few times. She was extremely composed in net.â€ť
In both halves, UConn had its chances to capitalize on good scoring opportunities against Kamp.
UConn had excellent play out of some freshman players, especially Yamilee Eveillard, Zoe Steck and Kess Elmore.
â€śWe have a lot of good players but weâ€™ve gotten no results,â€ť UConn head coach Len Tsantiris said. â€śTheyâ€™re good, but it comes down to getting the goal.â€ť
Eveillard weaved through Red Storm defenders to create a shot that she put just wide to the right in the first half.
Later on in the game, Zoe Steck had the best opportunity for UConn to score, right in front of the net, but Kamp denied her with UConn players surrounding her. Elmore crossed a ball from the right side that almost slid past Kamp in the left corner of the net.
â€śWeâ€™re young,â€ť Tsantiris said. â€śWe had some chances in both halves, but weâ€™re young and they will get better. Itâ€™s only the fourth game weâ€™ve played.â€ť
For the St. Johnâ€™s offense, not much was happening in the first half. They had just two shots on goal off three shots and one corner kick. The shots on net came from Shea Connors and Allie Moar.
The best opportunity came off the leg of Moar, but her shot just missed high over the UConn net.
â€śI think games like this will kind of give us more confidence moving forward,â€ť St. Johnâ€™s head coach Ian Stone said. â€śIn the first 15 to 20 minutes we gave UConn a little too much respect, then we started playing better during the end of the first half and beginning of the second half.â€ť
The Red Storm started off the second half much stronger and more opportunities were presented in the UConn zone. The Red Storm held possession of the ball more in the second half.
The added possession time and pressure for the Red Storm early in the second half resulted in the Bellero goal.
â€śThey held really strong,â€ť Stone said. â€śThis group has got a great team chemistry and character. Towards the end of games that comes into play and it turned out a good result for us.â€ť
St. Johnâ€™s will face Harvard on Sunday in a predetermined matchup, while UConn will play the nightcap against CCSU.
Dan Orencole can be reached atÂ 860-973-1811 orÂ firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @OrencoleDan