MORE OF A BITE
Huskies win home opener against Terriers
Published: Saturday, August 31, 2013
Updated: Saturday, August 31, 2013 00:08
The fifth-ranked UConn men’s soccer team kicked off its 2013 season with a 1-0 win over St. Francis College Friday night at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium.
The Huskies got its lone goal from freshman midfielder Cyle Larin—the first of his collegiate career—at the 24th minute in the first half. Fellow freshman defender Kwame Awuah sent a cross to Larin from just outside the left edge of the penalty box and the latter headed it past the Terriers’ goalkeeper Jack Binks to put UConn on the board.
“I saw Cyle opening up and calling for the ball, so I tried my best to hit him down the middle or over the defender’s head, and it got to him and he scored the goal,” Awuah said.
“Usually I signal, that’s how me and Kwame connect,” Larin said.
UConn pressured St. Francis throughout the first half and had nine shots as a team—including three on goal—while the Terriers had none. Senior forward Mamadou Doudou Diouf took four shots but was not able to find the net to increase the lead.
Coach Ray Reid was pleased with the team’s play in the first half but had concerns of the players’ conditioning.
“We’ve been in camp for 16 days and we haven’t played a full game since last April as a team,” Reid said. “You saw with 20 minutes to go we were fatigued. We gotta have a more of a killer instinct and get that second goal. It should’ve been three (goals) at the half and we let them hang around and we gave them some confidence that they probably shouldn’t had.”
The Terriers responded by coming out strong in the second half as they set up a couple of opportunities that could have knotted the score. The Northeast Conference Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, Kevin Correa, had a chance early in the half when he received a pass inside the penalty box and shot the ball on goal, only to be put away by UConn’s junior and American Athletic Conference’s Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year, Andre Blake.
Blake and the rest of UConn’ defense were able to hold off one more threat from St. Francis with two minutes remaining in the match when Correa missed another opportunity inside the box as he shot the ball just right of the goal.
“He’s a very good goalkeeper and he’s a better kid,” Reid said of Blake. “He’s great for the university and he’s a coach’s dream as a player and as a person. We’ve been fortunate to have him for three years.”
The two teams played a physical match throughout. Both St. Francis’ defender Riccardo Milano and UConn’s midfielder George Fochive received yellow cards from referee Carlos Fernandes in the second half.
“They came to rough us up,” Larin said. “Every time I turned, someone was there. Even when I didn’t have the ball, someone was knocking me.”
“It was like a rugby with them,” said Reid. “And it’s not a knock at them, I know their coach and I don’t think they were trying to hurt us, but it kills any type of rhythm because then they are cramping up and stopping the clock, so the whole tempo of the game goes out the window and that doesn’t help us.”
The match marked the fourth consecutive time that the UConn have opened the season with a victory against the St. Francis. The Huskies are 7-0-0 all-time against the Terriers.
UConn will return to action on Monday, Sept. 2 when they take on the William & Mary Tribe at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium at 7 p.m.