On the road for their second consecutive game, the men’s soccer team traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma over the weekend to play in their second American Athletic Conference match of the year against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. The game was the first between the two teams since their showdown in the conference championship last season, which Tulsa won on penalties.
The first chance of the match for the Huskies came in the 18th minute as captain Jake Nerwinski worked past a defender and fired a shot at Tulsa’s goalie Jake McGuire for an easy save. Two minutes later, sophomore forward Abdou Mbacke Thiam blasted a shot at net, but was well off target. UConn didn’t have too many more chances the rest of the game, only posting four more shots and one more shot on goal.
That other shot on goal was all they needed, however, as Andrew “Goose” Geres was in the right place at the right time, capitalizing on a rebound off the post for the easy goal from point-blank range in the 31st minute. Thiam took the initial shot, which prompted McGuire to dive for the save. As a result, the Tulsa goalkeeper was well out of position when the rebound fell to Geres’ foot.
The Huskies came into the game on quite the hot streak, having won their last four games and outscoring their opponents 9-2 over that span. UConn’s two most recent wins were 1-0 shutouts, displaying their defensive prowess, aided by supreme goalkeeping from Scott Levene.
Clearly, defense was head coach Ray Reid’s emphasis again. The Huskies’ defense, led by their anchor Levene, posted their third consecutive shutout in the win against the Golden Hurricane. Despite allowing 13 shots, five of which were on goal, the defense prevented any chances from becoming legitimate scoring opportunities.
Levene came up huge when the lights shined brightest on Saturday night. First, he stopped a close-range shot by Tulsa midfielder Rollie Rocha in the 49th minute. Later, when the Golden Hurricane earned a penalty in the 86th minute, Levene dove to his right and stretched out an arm to make a huge save and preserve the lead, and ultimately win the game.
The loss drops Tulsa to 5-3-2 (1-1-0 the American) and brings the Huskies’ all-time series against Tulsa to 3-0-3 in regular season play, dating back to 2008.
Although it wasn’t pretty, coach Reid and UConn will definitely be more than happy to come home with a win on the road at Tulsa to avenge last year’s conference championship loss. The victory improves the Huskies’ win streak to five-games, and improves their record to 8-3-0 (2-0-0 the American) on the year. UConn’s win streak continues to grow, along with their confidence. As long as their defense remains solid and offense from the likes of Thiam, Geres and Kwame Awauh continues to produce, then the wins should keep coming.
Next up, the Huskies come back home to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats next Saturday night at 7 p.m. under the lights at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium with hopes of increasing their win streak to six, and maintaining their undefeated start to conference play.
Chris Hanna is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org