At Joseph J. Morrone Stadium on Saturday night, the UConn men’s soccer team played a game reminiscent of the three home games that opened their season, when each team finished with a 0-0 scoreless draw. Neither the Huskies nor the visiting Memphis Tigers were able to strike in regulation, leading way to UConn’s fourth overtime match of the season.
This time, however, the Huskies weren’t even able to escape with a draw.
Memphis’ Chandler Klemm received a pass from Mason Morise outside the box, and fired the winning goal past UConn goalkeeper Scott Levene in the 106th minute, handing the Huskies a heartbreaking loss. The loss also sent UConn to 0-2-0 in American Athletic Conference play, a slow start that could come back to haunt them.
“We had plenty of opportunities,” UConn coach Ray Reid said after the game. “If you don’t bury them, they come back to haunt you like it did tonight. We got to do better finishing off all of the things we’re creating.”
Throughout the match, UConn did have the better chances. Multiple crosses from the wing dipped right in front of Memphis goalkeeper Jake Leeker, causing havoc, but the Huskies often struggled to make contact with the ball and create challenging shots. Jacob Nerwinski led multiple attacks from the right side that could have ended in UConn goals, but fell short.
The Memphis defense loaded up to stop Fredrik Jonsson and the rest of the Huskies’ offense, compacting their defenders. It was an effective strategy, though UConn still created chances.
“It wasn’t the most compact team we’ve seen all season come here, but they definitely had a good block of eight behind the ball every time we got it, and it was hard to break them down,” UConn defender Andrew Geres said after the game. “Which made all the chances that we squandered all that more important.”
The Huskies did seem to lose steam as the match went on. UConn outshot Memphis 6-1 in the first half, but the Tigers led the shooting tally 7-5 over the rest of the match, including a 4-2 advantage in the two overtime periods.
Geres denied that team was worn down in the later stages of the match.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with fitness,” Geres said. “We dominate the game of possession and we just need to take our chances more clinically.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Huskies coming up. Their next two conference opponents are Cincinnati and SMU, who are both in the top three in the AAC standings as of Sunday. UConn sits in dead last, and will have to jumpstart their offense soon to stand a chance in conference play.
The Huskies will host Cincinnati at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium on Oct. 7. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.