Huskies prepare for post-season during stretch run
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 00:10
After Wednesday’s 4-0 win over Seton Hall Pirates, the No. 4 UConn Huskies improved to 12-1-1 overall and 4-1-0 in the conference. At this point, Connecticut is a lock for the NCAA Tournament and is on track for a top-seed and a first-round bye in the Big East Tournament.
This is a familiar position for the Huskies that has ended in disappointment the last three seasons.
In 2009, the matchup between Monmouth and UConn was a scoreless tie through regulation and extra time in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. As always in elimination games, penalty kicks followed to decide the winner. Monmouth emerged victorious over the favored Huskies 4-3. UConn was knocked out of the Big East and NCAA Tournament by way of a penalty shootout at the hands of Cincinnati and Brown in 2010.
After 14 matches in 2011, the Huskies stood at 13-0-1 but stumbled down the stretch to finish the final five games at 2-2-1. UConn lost to rival St. John’s in the conference final and lost in penalty kicks to Charlotte in the NCAA Quarterfinals.
There are three regular season games remaining: one at Pittsburgh Oct. 20, one at Providence Oct. 24 and senior night at home against Providence Oct. 27. Pittsburgh and Providence have combined for a 1-8-0 record in Big East play this season.
“You have to take each game one by one. The only thing I am thinking about right now is Pittsburgh,” junior Mamadou Doudou Diouf said.
Huskies at the next level
Head Coach Ray Reid has developed several players into the top college players in the country year after year. This season, sophomore goalkeeper Andre Blake, senior Carlos Alvarez and Diouf have caught the attention of the MLS. According to Topdrawersoccer.com’s midseason national rankings, Blake is ranked No. 2, Alvarez No.6 and Diouf No. 26.
Blake’s stellar freshman season has carried over to his sophomore campaign. This year, Blake leads the nation with a 0.35 goals against average and ranks second in the country with a .892 save percentage.
Alvarez has notched five goals and seven assists this season. With an assist in Wednesday’s win over the Pirates, he is tied for third highest all-time assists in school history with 40 assists. Alvarez, the team captain, was named a NSCAA Second-Team All-American as a junior and was named the Big East Rookie of the Year as a freshman. Similar to Diouf, Alvarez is focusing on the present rather than the future.
“Every time I step on the field I just want to have fun,” Alvarez said. “Soccer is game where you can go out there and give it all every time because you never know when it is going to be your last competition.”
Diouf’s pair of goals against Seton Hall brings him to 11 goals this season and 30 for his career.