Just four days after a huge overtime win over Boston College, the University of Connecticut men’s soccer team went on the road to take on an American Athletic Conference rival in the UCF Knights. This matchup between two teams on opposite ends of the conference standings would go to overtime as well, but unfortunately for the Huskies it didn’t go as well.
Both UConn and UCF managed nine total shots for the match, but tallied only three and four shots on goal, respectively. In the first half in particular, chances came few and far in between.
Not a single threatening attack came from either team until the 54th minute, when forward Abdou Mbacke Thiam ran on to a pass in the box and took a shot on goal. Unfortunately, Knights’ goalkeeper Matt Rosenberg knocked Thiam’s shot away for a corner. On the attack following the corner, Andrew Geres took a shot from outside the box, but it was cleared away by the defense.
Eventually, the tie would be broken in the 76th minute as Brian Jamba blasted a shot from outside the box and bounced in off the crossbar, giving UCF a 1-0 lead.
The Huskies didn’t take too long to respond, however, as Thiam made up for his missed chance from earlier with a goal in the 81st minute. Senior midfielder Sebastien Brems took a rocket of a shot that Rosenberg saved initially but bounced off his hands and into the box again. Thiam capitalized on the rebound opportunity and calmly slid the ball in for the equalizer for his team-leading 10th goal of the season and first goal in three games.
The late goal would bring UConn to its second consecutive overtime game, and with the momentum in their favor, it was expected that the Huskies might repeat the success they experienced against BC on Tuesday. However, it was just not meant to be on Saturday night as UCF’s Mattias Pyysalo scored an overtime winner in the 93rd minute to give UConn its second consecutive conference loss.
The defeat brings the Huskies to 11-5 on the year and 3-2 in the American, while UCF improves to 4-8 on the season and 2-3 in the American. The loss is also the first time that UConn has allowed two goals against in a game since the 2-0 loss to Louisville in the third game of the season, and only the second time this year. The Huskies still boast one of the best defenses in the nation despite allowing two goals, with a goals against average among the top ten in Division I.
Although they suffered hiccups in back-to-back conference matchups, the Huskies still have two games remaining to get back on the winning track before the conference tournament. Next Saturday, UConn will remain on the road to take on the Memphis Tigers, before closing out the year at home against SMU.
Chris Hanna is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.