Going up against No. 1/3 Maryland is a tough task for any college soccer team this season. Playing four games in a 10-day stretch is also incredibly difficult.
The UConn men’s soccer team had to do both on Monday night at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium. The Huskies hosted the Terrapins in front of an impressive weeknight crowd of 4,160 in the conclusion of a brutal stretch in their schedule.
UConn (5-3-2, 2-0-0 the American) defeated Temple, Providence and Tulsa, each in the past 10 days. Their winning streak came to an end on Monday night, as they fell to No. 1/3 Maryland in a tightly contested 3-2 match.
“I thought we gave them a run for their money,” sophomore Niko Petridis said. “I thought we played well, we showed a lot of heart. It’s just unfortunate they put one more in the back of the net.”
The Huskies showed that they were able to hang with Division I’s top level of competition, getting off 10 shots to Maryland’s 11. Despite the loss, UConn showed plenty of promise.
“I want to win. I’m a winner,” Ray Reid said. “But I think tonight served its purpose.”
Maryland (8-0-3, 3-0-2 Big Ten) struck first on a deflection that ended up with a one-on-one chance against UConn goalkeeper Scott Levene. UConn answered when Blaise N’Gague converted a penalty kick and the game went into halftime tied at one.
After two goals from Maryland in the second half, the Huskies showed some heart with a late goal from freshman Nicolas Apostol. The Terrapins were certainly deserving of the win, but there were points in the second half, especially early on, in which UConn genuinely looked like they belonged and could perhaps win the game.
“We scheduled this game to be stretched out a little bit,” Reid said. “I thought in the second half we were the better team, but we gave away two bad goals.”
Ten games into the season, UConn sits atop the American Athletic Conference and is 5-3-2 with losses to some tough opponents. A difficult nonconference schedule should make it easier heading into the rest of conference play, a conference that the Huskies were picked to finish first in the preseason polls.
“The whole idea is to use this as an exercise to help get us ready for Cincinnati and the remaining [eight] games,” Reid said. “Hopefully it did that.”
For the Huskies, a team that started off shaky by losing to Iona and squeaking past Quinnipiac, it appears that they’re coming together. UConn was ranked No. 24 in the preseason poll and Reid’s team seems to be finally reaching their potential.
“I’m proud of our guys. I think we competed hard, I think we’re in the right direction. I think we needed this,” Reid said. “Hopefully we take what we got tonight and it makes us a little bit better, a little tougher.”
Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.