Huskies lose first regular season home game since 2009
Published: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 15, 2013 23:09
The third-ranked UConn men’s soccer team was upset by Bradley University, 1-0, on a chilly Saturday night at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium. The loss was the first of the season for the Huskies and the team’s record drops to 2-1-1 on the season.
The Braves (3-2-0) got on the board with just three minutes into the match as they were awarded a penalty kick after UConn junior goalkeeper Andre Blake seemingly committed a foul on a charging Bradley player inside the box. The redshirt junior Zach Kovacevic blasted the ball through Blake’s stretched hands up the middle for his first career goal to take the lead.
“We think maybe they were offside,” said coach Ray Reid on the call. “But we are not sure. The alignment was even so I would have to probably think there was no offside.”
The goal was the first one conceded by the Huskies’ defense this season and it also ended Blake’s three-match shutout streak.
After giving up the goal, UConn applied heavy pressure offensively and created multiple scoring opportunities in and around the penalty box. The Huskies finished the opening half with a 7-3 edge on shots, though none were on goal.
The second half was no different as the Huskies continued the blitz on the Braves’ defense but were just not able to find the net.
With 34 minutes to go in the match, Ethan Decker—who started the second half—dribbled the ball into the Braves’ penalty box and seemed to be taken down by a defender to draw a penalty kick. The referee stopped the play, however, only to hand out a yellow card to Decker for simulation.
UConn’s best scoring opportunity to even up the score came with just under 28 minutes in the second half. Freshman midfielder Cyle Larin took a shot from the right side of the penalty box but the ball bounced off the lower left post and was then corralled by Braves goalkeeper Brian Billings, who went on to make five saves in the match.
Billings came into the match as the Missouri Valley Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week in the opening week of the season. Saturday night marked his third shutout of the season
The Huskies finished the match with a total of 21 shots with five on goal. They also had an 11-3 advantage in corner kicks against a Braves’ team that had a 37-19 edge on corners so far this season.
UConn’s offense has struggled lately and hasn’t scored since the 41st minute of the first half in its win against Boston University back on Sept. 6. The Huskies now have a scoreless drought of 249 minutes.
“We got good players, it’s just working the kinks out,” said Reid. “Sure there’s some frustration but it’s early season ‘working-it-out.’”
Things could have gotten worse for UConn as two Bradley goals were nullified on offside calls, each coming with around 15 minutes remaining in the individual halves.
The Huskies will look to rebound after the loss when they travel to upstate New York tomorrow for their first road match of the season to take on Syracuse. Kickoff is set at 7 p.m. at the SU Soccer Stadium.