Men's Soccer: Young Huskies draw Cincinnati 1-1 thanks to Thiam penalty

UConn men's soccer freshman forward Abdou Mbacke Thiam takes a penalty during the Huskies' game against Cincinnati at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Connecticut on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015. Thiam scored UConn's lone goal in the 1-1 draw. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

It was more of the same for the UConn men’s soccer team in 2015. After 110 minutes at Morrone Stadium against Cincinnati, there was still no winner. A goal from each team, two 10 minute overtime periods, and multiple missed opportunities told the story of how the Huskies saw their record go to 3-4-3 on the season.

“For the most part, we did everything we have to do. It’s just extremely frustrating (to not get the win),” coach Ray Reid said. “We handed them a goal. It was the only chance (Cincinnati) had all night. I thought we played well, really well. Kwame (Awuah) had a sitter in overtime, Abdou (Thiam) had a sitter in overtime.”

The Huskies took an early lead in the 27th minute when Awuah played a perfect through ball to open up the Bearcats defense that found Thiam. Thiam earned a penalty kick after getting tripped up in the box, he buried his ensuing attempt into the upper left of the net. Thiam is one of five Huskies to have recorded his first career goal in the 2015 season.

“We played really good in the first half,” centerback Elliot Ackroyd said. “We should have been up one, two, three, four goals.”

The goal only tells part of the story of the Huskies’ first half effort. UConn pressed the issue offensively throughout the opening 45 minutes. They got a chance in the first minute when Fredrik Jonsson sent a cross across the box that Cincinnati’s keeper Pedro Diaz was able to knock away. In the 13th, a clever backheel from Tyler Leeman freed up Jonsson for a clean look at goal, but Jonsson missed the net wide. 

“We should’ve been up by more than a goal at the half. That causes us problems. This has been our Achilles Heel all year, where we should be leading by more at the half. We’re just not mature enough to get that second goal to finish off a team,” Reid said.

UConn’s lack of finishing ability came back to cost them. Cincinnati knotted the game up at one in the 64th minute when Alejandro Garcia netted his eighth score of the season, heading in a beautiful cross from Adam Wilson. 

Garcia was injured on the play due to a collision with UConn keeper Scott Levene and would not return to the game after being carried off. 

Throughout the second half, UConn looked like a different team. They sank into a defensive mindset and lacked aggressiveness moving the ball. 

With time about to expire in the first overtime period, Awuah blasted a shot toward Diaz from the top left corner of the box but it curled over the crossbar and out of play.In the 107th minute, Awuah put on a shot on target that was knocked away by a lunging effort from Diaz.

“It’s tough, we’re trying to stay positive. People are in the right position, you can see it. We’re pressing in the box. We just have to keep our heads up and eventually, we’’ break through in overtime,” Ackroyd said.

Levene earned his fourth draw of the season, making four saves while his counterpart Pedro Diaz stopped one Husky shot in the net. In total, UConn out-shot the Bearcats, 16-to-9, and also held a 10-to-2 edge on corner kicks attempts.

“There’s a lot of young guys playing… I knew we’d be good, really talented but I did not factor in for youth and the experience for going through it. We’re not healthy and we have four guys that have played (at UConn before this year). We’re getting valuable experience, but it’s a process. Hopefully it’ll pay off for us at the end of the year,” Reid said.

The Huskies now sport a 2-2-3 all-time record against the Bearcats in a series that dates back to 1998.

The Huskies hit the road for their second road conference tilt of the season on Saturday, Oct. 10 against SMU. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.


Elan-Paolo DeCarlo is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at elan-paolo.decarlo@uconn.edu. He tweets @ElanDeCarlo.