The No. 24 UConn men’s soccer team finally scored their first goal of the season. A scoring drought spanning the season’s opening 200 minutes was broken when junior forward Abdou Mbacke Thiam ended Monday night’s contest against Quinnipiac with a goal four minutes into overtime.
The Huskies dominated the Bobcats for 90 minutes but they couldn’t find the back of the net. UConn outshot Quinnipiac 15-2 in the game, including several high-caliber chances that the Huskies couldn’t convert.
“The toughest thing in the game to do is to score goals,” UConn head coach Ray Reid said. “When teams pack their defense, it’s even harder. We traditionally don’t start well and that’s on me.”
The game was eerily familiar for this 2017 team, as they had a similar performance against Iona in Friday night’s season-opener. The Huskies lost that game despite looking like the better team for much of the match.
“In two matches, we’ve created more big-time chances, and this is dead serious, than we did in 21 matches last year,” Reid said.
Thiam has been responsible for the large majority of those missed chances, including a missed penalty kick on Friday. Throughout Monday’s game, Thiam had seven shots and several chances that he would be expected to finish. In the last two minutes of regulation alone, he missed a header from point blank range and was unable to connect on a wide open Josh Burnett pass from the end line.
However, he came through in overtime as he finished a cross from defender Dylan Greenberg. Greenberg created chances all night from his left back position and his game-winning assist especially impressed Reid.
“[Greenberg] has been brilliant in these two games. Brilliant,” Reid said. “In the 94th minute, look how he got down that flank in transition. Are you kidding me?”
Other standouts for the Huskies included Burnett, a freshman, and sophomore Niko Petridis. Burnett fed Greenberg on the left side to set up Thiam’s goal as well as getting off three shots, including one with space from the penalty area that he pushed wide with less than ten minutes in the game. Petridis was flying up the right side for a lot of the game, sending in crosses and contributing to solid build-ups.
Freshmen Austin DaSilva also impressed in the game and might see more playing time due to an injury to starting forward Dayonn Harris Monday night.
“There were parts tonight, and parts Saturday night, we’re playing four freshmen and four sophomores and they’re pretty freaking good,” Reid said. “We just have to accelerate the process but it’s a good win. Some toughness, some resiliency… If we can navigate the first few more games here until we can get a few things under our legs, this group is gonna be good. This group’s gonna be real good.”
UConn will look to build on their first win of the season when they take on nonconference opponent Notre Dame on Saturday.
“I’m happy for the guys. We’ve got a tough game coming up on Saturday, but now we’ve got a couple days to prepare for Notre Dame.”
Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.