A late goal by Nicolas Apostol for the UConn men’s soccer team was a mere consolation Monday night as the No. 1/3 Maryland Terrapins left Joseph J. Morrone Stadium with a 3-2 win to continue an impressive undefeated season.
The Huskies (5-3-2, 2-0-0 the American) held their own against the Terrapins, managing to produce 10 shots, five of which were on target, but couldn’t finish when the big opportunities came. Ultimately, UConn put in a pretty good performance against one of the best teams in the country.
“We had a great mentality. It starts with the captains and the seniors and the leaders,” UConn head coach Ray Reid said. We started the season with a brand new team…it takes some time. I knew tonight would not be easy and I thought our guys competed, and that’s what I wanted out of them.”
The Huskies’ first real chance came in the ninth minute, when forward Abdou Mbacke Thiam had a shot deflected just wide for a corner kick. Later, Thiam would take a shot from inside the box just barely saved by Maryland keeper Dayne St. Clair.
After getting a goal called back for an offside run in the 17th minute, Maryland (8-0-3, 3-0-2 Big Ten) broke through with the game’s opening goal in the 27th minute. Gordon Wild made a fantastic pass to find Eryk Williamson in space in the box, and Williamson calmly slotted the goal past Huskies goalie Scott Levene into the bottom left corner.
"They’re a great program, you know. And their guys, if you make a mistake, as you can see they're clinical in the box,” UConn midfielder Niko Petridis said. “We just have to learn that…we can’t switch off at all against these top teams and I thought we gave them a run for their money.”
UConn would not bow down, however, and scored an equalizer in the 34th minute on a Blaise N’Gague penalty kick after Cheikh Stephane Coly drew a foul in the Terps’ box. The goal was N’Gague’s first of the season and the first of his collegiate career.
Maryland really turned it on in the second half with precise passing and clinical finishes. An inch-perfect through pass from Amar Sejdic found midfielder Jake Rozhansky at the top of the box, where he curled the ball over the outstretched arm of Levene in the 55th minute.
The Terrapins doubled their lead just 12 minutes later when a series of stellar passes culminated in Williamson picking out DJ Reeves making a diagonal run in the box. Reeves gathered the ball and turned before firing the ball into the left corner.
"I would say, probably, they’re the best team in the country. I don’t think there’s anyone in college soccer that has as many weapons as they do,” Reid said.
Apostol got some energy back in the Huskies’ faithful in the crowd in the 87th minute with a goal to make it 3-2. After taking advantage of an errant pass from a Maryland defender just outside the box, Apostol took small touches before shooting past the charging St. Clair.
Burgess gave the Huskies one more legitimate chance at a goal two minutes later, but had his shot blocked by a defender. UConn couldn’t take advantage of the ensuing corner and the Terps locked up on defense for the remaining seconds of the game.
Next up, the Huskies will go on the road to take on Cincinnati Saturday afternoon in hopes of staying undefeated in the American Athletic Conference.
Chris Hanna is the associate sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @realchrishanna.