Coming into the game against Temple, UConn had their hands full as they were lining up against the second best goal scorer in the country this season, Jorge Gomez Sanchez. Nonetheless, the Huskies were able to come out on top on Saturday night, 1-0, behind a couple stellar defensive performances and an impressive game in net by UConn keeper and redshirt junior Scott Levene.
The Huskies were alert and had an effective plan to stop Sanchez.
“We knew coming in he was a dangerous player and a lot of our game plan was built around him,” Levene said. “We knew he was pretty much all left foot, and if we could put him on his right and neutralize (No.15) Jokinen, ‘cause he gets Sanchez the ball the most, then we could shut down Sanchez. We knew if we could shut down those two, our night was going to be made a whole lot easier.”
Defense was the game winner again in the Temple matchup, as the Huskies have held Temple scoreless in their last three meetings and have improved their record to 5-0-3 against the Owls. In the most recent shutout, Temple was held to eight shots and only two corners, only the second game this season held scoreless.
Head Coach Ray Reid was pleased with the team’s performance and the shutout as he said, “our backs did a good job of managing, our backs did a good job.”
Sanchez has put in a conference best nine goals this season and, as he only trails Buffalo’s Russell Cicerone by 11 goals for the best mark in the nation. Temple’s second best player, Joonas Jokinen, came into the game tied for third in the nation in assists with five. These two players had ignited Temple to a 5-2 record before coming into the game against UConn.
Levene and the rest of the team were very aware of Sanchez and Jokinen coming in, as they were held to three shots and only two shots on goal between the two of them. In the 73rd minute of the game, Sanchez had a golden opportunity to score but Levene was able to make one of his five saves of the night to stop him.
“They caught us stretched out, Sanchez was wide open for a free header and I knew as long as I get across the goal and I get set I would have a good chance and that’s what I did…I am just trying to help the team as much as I can and thankfully I was there to make the save,” Levene said.
The conversation about UConn, especially at Morrone Stadium, is usually all about their offensive firepower, but this season the Huskies have been very stout defensively, allowing only seven goals and nine shots per game. Over the course of their three game winning streak, the Huskies have only allowed two goals and have only been scored on multiple times during one game this season.
Matthew Kren is a Staff Writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached by email at Matthew.Kren@uconn.edu.