Men's Soccer: Huskies break through, break slump against No. 10 Billikens
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 22:09
The UConn men’s soccer team was in need of a victory after a winless three-game stretch and came through with a dominant 2-1 win over the visiting No. 10 St. Louis University Billikens.
Freshman Cyle Larin stepped up on offense for the Huskies (3-2-1) with a breakthrough goal 17 minutes into the game. It was Larin’s second goal of the season, his first since UConn’s season opener against St. Francis.
Then with a free kick almost 10 yards outside the penalty box, freshman Ethan Decker sunk a shot deep into the top left corner of the net 51 minutes into the game for his first goal as a Husky.
UConn let up its only goal of the night with less than 20 minutes left in the game when St. Louis’s Alex Sweetin sent a penalty kick just out of reach of UConn goalkeeper Andre Blake. The kick was the result of a UConn handball inside the penalty box.
UConn’s back line once again proved indispensable as it shut down the Billikens for the entire game sans the penalty kick. Michael Mercado, who last week earned conference defensive player of the week honors for his play against Bradley and Washington, again helped lead a solid defensive effort.
Saturday night’s game was an indication that UConn’s offense may finally be getting off the ground. The Huskies finished with 17 shots overall compared to just four from the Billikens.
“That’s a very good St. Louis team,” UConn Head Coach Ray Reid said. “We were dangerous tonight and I thought we came to play.”
Senior forward Mamadou Doudou Diouf was out of the lineup Saturday night with a leg injury, but the freshman performances by Larin and Decker were enough to seal the win for the Huskies.
“It doesn’t matter who scored the goals, we just need to score goals,” said Reid. “It doesn’t matter if it was freshmen or sophomores, they were two great goals.”
The Huskies had not won a match since their 1-0 Sept. 6 victory over visiting Boston University. Since then, the Huskies have tied No. 6 Washington 1-1 and dropped two straight matches against Bradley University and Syracuse.
Away from home
The Huskies will not return to Morrone Stadium until their Oct. 5 match against Central Florida. Until then, UConn will head to down to Tampa to play South Florida on Sept. 27 before heading to Philadelphia to play Temple on Oct. 2.
“They’re two tough teams,” said head coach Ray Reid. “South Florida’s very good, Temple’s very good, we’ve just got to put today behind us and get ready for Friday.”
Reid said Diouf could be back in the lineup as soon as next week against South Florida.
The quotable Cyle Larin
UConn’s offense has only improved with each passing game this season, and that was even more evidenced Saturday night with some strong chemistry on the attacking side of the ball for the Huskies. The major breakthrough came with Larin’s goal in the first half, which he said was a genuine result of the team’s gelling on offense.
“I just attacked the net and placed it to the right and it came naturally to me,” Larin said. “Last week’s games it wasn’t coming naturally to me. Against this team it came naturally.”