Notebook: Huskies are top dog in season opener
UConn survives a physical St. Francis team, wins 1-0
Published: Friday, August 30, 2013
Updated: Saturday, August 31, 2013 13:08
With the new Husky adorning their home whites for the first time in regular season play, the UConn men’s soccer team survived against St. Francis College Friday night for a 1-0 victory on opening night.
The lone goal for the Huskies came off the head of freshman midfielder Cyle Larin when some activity in the St. Francis penalty box led to a clean set up from freshman defender Kwame Awuah.
“That’s how me and Kwame connect, and it translated to the game,” Larin said.
Despite the Huskies letting the Terriers hang around a little longer than they should have, No. 5 UConn dominated both in possession and in offensive opportunities throughout the game for the win.
UConn has now beaten St. Francis at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium to start the season for the third year in a row.
Opening night jitters
St. Francis came alive in the second half to give the Huskies a few significant scares. Right up until the end the Terriers put pressure on the UConn defense, most notably when St. Francis junior forward Kevin Correa sent a shot inside the penalty box wide of the goal with under two minutes left in the match.
“You saw with 20 minutes to go we were fatigued,” said UConn head coach Ray Reid. “We gave them some confidence they shouldn’t have had.”
The Huskies did come out of the gates strong with a dominant first half though. It wasn’t until the second half that the UConn defense allowed a single shot on goalkeeper Andre Blake. The Terriers would finish the match with 5 shots.
Chippy Terrier play
There was constant tough play throughout the game from both sides of the ball, but St. Francis made it clear from the outset that they were not going to be bullied physically by the Huskies.
“They came to rough us up,” Larin said. “Every time I turned…someone was knocking me.”
The rough play reached a boiling point halfway through the second half. Senior St. Francis defender Riccardo Milano seemed to elbow UConn goalkeeper Andre Blake in the face after Blake caught a ball in the air headed for the goal.
Blake took off a glove and threw it down to the ground in frustration, but Milano was quickly given a yellow card for his offense.
George Fochive, Colin Bradley, and the rest of the UConn midfield provided consistent opportunities for the offense that finished the game with 14 total shots.
Forwards Mamadou Doudou Diouf and Nicholas Zuniga weren’t able to convert any goals Friday night but put relentless pressure on St. Francis goalkeeper Jack Binks.
“We should have scored way more goals than we had today,” Larin said.
The quotable Ray Reid
UConn goalkeeper Andre Blake made several strong saves to preserve the shutout for the Huskies. On Blake’s continued excellence, Reid had nothing but praise.
“We like having him back there. That’s for sure,” Reid said.
The UConn men’s soccer team is back in action Monday night at home against the William and Mary Tribe. The game is set for 7:00 p.m. at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium.