After a sluggish start in the first half, UConn (4-3) was able to pull away from Loyola Maryland (1-5) in stunning fashion, scoring four answered goals and winning 5-1. The Huskies tied their largest offensive performance since 2014 when they scored five goals against Temple in the American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinals.
Playing at home has been a blessing for UConn as they are now 4-1 this year and 25-6-7 at Morrone Stadium since the start of the 2013 campaign. After losing two games in a row on the road and moving to 3-3, the Huskies needed a jumpstart and the home crowd of 3,666 fans gave them just that. Junior Andrew Geres who recorded four points on the day, a goal and two assists, noted the importance of snapping the streak and this win when he said, “These are the games we definitely have to win...this is what it needs to be most of the time, we shouldn’t be scraping by 2-1 or 1-0 in games.”
The Huskies needed just 17 minutes to start the scoring as junior Alex Sanchez was able to slot a ball past near post against the Loyola Maryland goalie for his second goal of the season. Geres was credited with an assist on the Sanchez goal.
After trying to add a second goal and dodging two questionable non-penalty kick calls, UConn conceded a free kick right outside the box which led to Matt Bautista putting away a goal in the 26th minute. UConn keeper Scott Levine, a redshirt junior, made a great save but put the ball on the six yard box, as Sanchez was then able to outrun the UConn defenders and tie up the game. Free kick defending has always been an issue for UConn as Coach Ray Reid noted, “We got to do better on free kicks, we are not happy about that, we should of shut them out, but we didn’t.”
Despite letting up the goal, UConn responded in a flash as they only needed 183 seconds to score. After receiving a pass from Geres at the top of the box, sophomore Abdou Mbacke Thiam was able to make a great turn and put the ball in the back of the net, for the second UConn goal of the game.
Loyola never looked right after conceding the second goal of the game as Coach Reid said, “We answered them quickly from a psychological standpoint which was very good.”
UConn was able to finish out the first half with much of the possession and go into halftime with a 2-1 advantage.
UConn came out in the second half like a bat out of hell, as Geres was able to rocket a pass from senior Sebastian Brems near the post just 48 seconds into the half, giving UConn a 3-1 lead. Less than three minutes later, Abdou received a stellar cross from senior Jake Nerwinski, which he was able to put away for his second of the game and UConn’s fourth.
The Huskies finally finished their second half scoring onslaught in the 60th minute when Nerwinski scored his first of this season, putting the game to the rest. UConn had a 13 to 4 shot advantage and a 6 to 2 corner kick advantage in the game.
After two tough games against very good teams, Coach Reid said he was happy with his teams bounce back performance.
“We went down and played Notre Dame and Georgetown, and we knew we weren’t quite ready with a young team, we kept Abdou out both games. We knew these games when we scheduled them that they would make us better. I think we saw a little bit tonight the reminisce of that,” Reid.
The Huskies next match will be this Wednesday when they travel to Kingston, R.I. to challenge URI at 7 p.m. They will return to Morrone next Saturday when they take on Temple at 7 p.m.
Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.