Men’s Soccer: UConn looks to bounce back on the road

UConn junior midfielder Alex Sanchez (#18) tries to make his way around BC's sophomore defender Abe Bibas (#14) in a game on Oct. 18, 2016. The Huskies won 1-0 in overtime. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Following a road loss in overtime to the UCF Knights, the University of Connecticut Huskies men’s soccer team will travel south for the second weekend in a row to take on the Memphis Tigers.

The matchup between the Huskies and Tigers will only be their fourth meeting all-time, dating back to 2013, and the series stands at 2-1 in favor of UConn. In the Huskies’ last win at Memphis in October of 2014, redshirt sophomore left back Dylan Greenberg scored his first goal, while redshirt junior goalkeeper Scott Levene made his first start in goal for UConn.

Levene has since been one of the Huskies’ most consistent players, especially this season in which he ranks 17th in the nation and first in the American Athletic Conference with a goals against average of 0.61. Levene has played every minute for UConn this year and is a big reason why the team ranks in the top 15 in the nation with just ten goals allowed.

“[Levene’s] ability to improve some of his deficiencies we thought he had has been big for us. He’s made some strides in certain areas of his game, so we’re pleased with that,” head coach Ray Reid said.

The Tigers head into Saturday night’s game with 7-7-1 season record, but are in last place in the American with a 1-3-1 conference record. Most recently, Memphis lost to USF on the road for their third consecutive defeat. Despite their poor play in conference, the Tigers are a tough team to beat at home in the Mike Rose Soccer Complex, where they are 5-2 on the year.

The Tigers’ goalkeeper Jake Leeker will be tough for the Huskies to beat in net, having posted five clean sheets this season and tallied 66 saves in 15 starts. On the offensive end, Memphis’ best attacking threats are Jackson Morse and Raul Gonzalez who have four and three goals on the year, respectively.

“[Memphis coach] Richard Mulrooney does a great job, he’s a very good coach,” Reid said. “They’re organized, they play well. They defend as a group and they’re competitive. He’s really done a great job in three years there.”

UConn, on the other hand, enters the game with an 11-5 record (3-2 the American), but has lost two of its last three games including back-to-back conference losses. Despite the rough stretch of play in the last few games, the Huskies have had a full week of rest going into the Memphis game and should be much more prepared and recovered than in weeks past.

“I think we’ve been able to work on some things that have been troubling us a little bit,” Reid said. “We’ve given the boys a little more rest and recovery than we would in a two-match week and hopefully we’ve had the right balance and we’ll be prepared for Saturday night.”


Chris Hanna is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.hanna@uconn.edu.