On a windy Wednesday night, the UConn Huskies men’s soccer team crossed the Connecticut-Rhode Island border to take on the Providence College Friars in one of the Huskies’ most important remaining non-conference games.
The matchup was the first time the teams had met in four years, when UConn defeated Providence 2-1 in the Big East tournament championship. The Huskies and the Friars had been scheduled to play the last two years, but the games were cancelled due to inclement weather both times.
UConn’s first shot came early in the game, as captain Kwame Awuah nearly opened up the score sheet blasting a shot just wide right from the top of the box in the seventh minute. Ten minutes later, left back Dylan Greenberg sent a cross into the box, but Alex Sanchez was unable to put his shot on frame.
Fifteen minutes through the second half, freshman substitute Munir Saleh forced a Providence turnover and laid the ball off to the Huskies’ most clinical scorer, Abdou Mbacke Thiam. Unfortunately, Thiam could not convert on the opportunity to take the lead, leaving the game scoreless at the hour mark.
Thiam would not be denied a goal, however, as he snatched the lead for the Huskies with just under 14 minutes left in the game. He was unassisted on the score, earning his seventh goal of the year and fifth goal in four games. The Huskies had never lost in games that Thiam scores in (12-0-2), and that proved true once more as the match came to a close.
The pace of play intensified in the last 10 minutes as the Friars pushed higher up the field in the hope of scoring an equalizer, but the Huskies defense, anchored by goalkeeper Scott Levene, hung on for the victory.
Levene was a wall in the cage for UConn, earning his fourth clean sheet with the win. He wasn’t greatly challenged as Providence only mustered one shot on goal, but he was in all the right places once again Wednesday night, assuring no shots would get past him.
The victory advances UConn to 7-3-0 (1-0 the American), while dropping Providence to 4-5-0 (0-2 Big East). The Huskies are now 33-6-2 against the Friars all-time, going back to 1973.
Providence was one of two big non-conference games remaining on the schedule for UConn, and the win Wednesday night will be a huge confidence boost to the team, which now owns a four-game winning streak. The victory on the road might even bring the Huskies back into national poll contention, after consecutive losses to Notre Dame and Georgetown had taken them out of the running for rankings.
Now with plenty of confidence to spare, UConn will stay on the road this weekend. The Huskies head to Tulsa Saturday night for an American Athletic Conference showdown against the team that defeated them on penalties in last year’s conference championship game.
Chris Hanna is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.