Coming off of a rough 1-0 loss to Georgetown in their road opener, the University of Connecticut men’s soccer team traveled to South Bend, Indiana on Tuesday night to take on the undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a game that took two overtimes to settle it. The matchup was the first between the two teams since 2012, when both were members of the Big East, prior to conference realignment.
In order to compete with the No.1 team in the nation, the Huskies needed to have a very clean performance on both halves of the field and they did just that for much of the game. UConn looked good defensively in the first half, limiting Notre Dame to six shots that didn’t challenge Huskies’ goalkeeper Scott Levene too much.
The Huskies had six shots of their own in the first half, including a sixth minute blast by senior right back, Jake Nerwinski, which went just wide. Later, Nerwinski set up tri-captain Kwame Awuah with a nice pass, but Awuah fired the shot right at Notre Dame’s goalkeeper, Chris Hubbard. Freshman winger Niko Petridis had a decent opportunity in the 37th minute with a shot from the top of the box, but his attempt was blocked by a defender.
The Huskies would only muster two more shots after the first half’s whistle, while Notre Dame shot twelve more times before the end of the game, really forcing Levene to make some saves. Levene was very much up to the challenge, however, as he managed to make a number of critical stops in the second half, keeping UConn in the game. In the 72nd minute, he made back to back saves, with the second coming on a through ball that would’ve given a Notre Dame forward an open net to shoot at.
Levene’s masterclass performance in net is what got the Huskies to overtime, but, unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough for a win. Despite a decent 24 yard shot on net by Alex Sanchez in the first overtime, the defense eventually broke down. Notre Dame’s Jon Gallagher surged down the right wing and shot the ball near post past Levene, winning the game for the Fighting Irish just three minutes into double overtime. It was Gallagher’s fifth goal of the year and helped improve Notre Dame to 6-0-0 in the young season.
The second consecutive loss for UConn drops them to 3-3-0 for the year. However, the solid defensive performance for much of the game, along with the form of Levene against a team like Notre Dame should give the Huskies confidence to bounce back going into their next game, which is at home against Loyola (Maryland) this coming Saturday.
Chris Hanna is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.