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UConn men's soccer is one win away from the College Cup

Staff Writer

Published: Friday, November 30, 2012

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

The UConn men’s soccer team will be looking to earn its first trip to the College Cup in 12 years when it hosts Creighton in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament Sunday at Morrone Stadium in Storrs.

The Huskies (17-3-1), the No. 4 overall seed in the tournament, were put to the test in the third round last Sunday against No. 13 New Mexico. The Lobos took a 1-0 lead in the first half and defended that lead for most of the second half. UConn’s leading goal scorer, Mamadou Doudou Diouf, tied the match with 14 minutes to play, heading in his 15th goal of the season.

In overtime, freshman Nicholas Zuniga netted his first career goal, getting on the end of a through-ball from senior captain Carlos Alvarez, poking the ball just out of the reach of New Mexico goalkeeper Victor Rodriguez to send UConn into the quarterfinals.

The Huskies are in the final eight for the second straight season. In 2011, UConn was eliminated from the tournament by way of a penalty kick shootout against Charlotte at Morrone Stadium.

The Huskies have been eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by penalty kicks three years in a row.

The only thing separating UConn from an elusive spot in the College Cup is a rematch from the 2008 NCAA Tournament against the Creighton Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays, the No. 12 seed in the tournament are looking to reach the College Cup for the second straight season. After defeating Michigan in the second round, Creighton pulled one of the shockers of the third round, defeating No. 5 Akron, one of the major favorites to win the national championship, in a penalty kick shootout.

Freshman goalkeeper Jeff Gal will lead Creighton defensively. Despite splitting time with sophomore Alex Bolowich during the season, Gal has emerged as the No. 1 keeper in the NCAA Tournament. Against the Zips, he made eight saves, including on a penalty kick in the first period of overtime.

Creighton will be without defender Jose Ribas. Ribas was sent off in Sunday’s win over Akron after picking up his second yellow card of the match.

Creighton only put one shot on net against Akron, but it resulted in a goal. UConn will need to rely on the continued strong play of defenders Flo Liu, Max Wasserman, Sergio Campbell and Michael Mercado, as well as goalkeeper Andre Blake. UConn has only allowed more than one goal in a season one time this season, in a 3-2 loss to Marquette.

The Huskies are third in the nation in goals against average, allowing only .51 goals per game, which could prove to be an issue for Creighton’s 39th-ranked offense, which has scored 1.73 goals per game.

UConn and Creighton have not played each other since Nov. 29, 2008, when the Blue Jays defeated the Huskies 2-1 in overtime of a third round game in the NCAA Tournament.

Sunday’s match kicks off at 1 p.m. at Morrone Stadium and can be heard live on WHUS, 91. 7 FM.

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