The UConn men's soccer rivalry with St. John's continues
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 21:09
After just two days of rest, the No. 2 UConn men’s soccer team begins its Big East schedule Saturday night at 7 p.m. against No. 13 St. John’s.
An expected sell-out crowd at Morrone Stadium will watch a match between two perennial conference powers with plenty of history. UConn defeated St. John’s 2-0 at home in late September. But the Red Storm got the last laugh, defeating the Huskies 1-0 in overtime in the Big East tournament finals. St. John’s owns the all-time series lead 14-12-6, but the teams are tied 4-4-4 in the previous 12 meetings.
“We have to be ready to play,” Coach Ray Reid said. “It’s the first Big East game, that’s enough incentive.”
This year, each team was the preseason favorite to win its respective division (UConn in the Blue Division and St. John’s in the Red Division) and so far both teams are unbeaten.
UConn (6-0-1) will want to score first, because St. John’s is 5-0-0 when scoring first this season and has trailed for only 82:45 this year. UConn has not trailed a minute in 2012.
Saturday will be a matchup of the conference’s two best goalkeepers. UConn’s Andre Blake has a league-best .28 goals against average and a .895 save percentage. Right behind him is St. John’s Rafael Diaz with a .46 goals against average and .886 save percentage. Diaz earned Big East Goalkeeper of the Week after preserving draws with Akron and Butler. Each player has recorded four shutouts, but Diaz has been relied on to make more saves: he has made 31 stops, compared to Blake’s 17.
After a bit of a slow start, junior forward Mamadou Doudou Diouf has been red hot in the last two games. He scored two goals in the first 11 minutes of a blowout win over Harvard and scored the only two goals in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Boston College. The preseason Big East offensive player of the year earned a spot on this week’s Big East Honor Roll for his performance. He leads the Big East with six goals and an average of 1.86 points per game.
Sophomore Allando Matheson is second on the team, with three goals and an assist. Seniors Max Wasserman and Carlos Alvarez both have two goals and two assists.
St. John’s is 5-0-3 after a pair of draws with No. 10 Akron and unranked Butler. St. John’s opened up the season with a win over Boston University 3-0, the only common opponent shared with the Huskies so far this season. BU is responsible for the only blemish on UConn’s record: a 1-1 tie on Sept. 9.
Saturday is also the start of conference play for the Red Storm. St. John’s has five players with at least two goals each. Senior Jack Bennett leads the team with three goals and three assists. Bennett may be a familiar name to Huskies fans. He scored the game-winning, overtime goal to clinch the Big East title last year.