Men’s Soccer: UConn hosts No. 9 Notre Dame in big nonconference match

UConn midfielder Munir Saleh avoids Quinnipiac defenders during the Huskies 1-0 overtime victory over the Bobcats on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. The Huskies hope to improve on the poor start to the season. (Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus)

A subpar showing against a few average opponents last week forced the UConn men’s soccer team out of the top-25 rankings this week. The Huskies still received votes in the poll and if they were to win on Saturday they would likely be ranked again next week.

That’s because on Saturday, No. 9 Notre Dame comes to town. The Irish won both of their games in the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament last week, defeating San Diego 2-0 before beating Cal Poly 2-1 in double overtime.

Irish senior forward Jeff Farina scored three goals in the tournament, earning him College Soccer News National Player of the Week honors. The three goals already tie Farina’s career high set in his sophomore season. Junior defender Felicien Dumas scored a goal and recorded two assists in the tournament, earning him Co-Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

Notre Dame will make its first trip to Storrs since 2012, a Big East matchup that the Huskies won 2-1. The former conference foes met in Notre Dame last year, resulting in a 1-0 double overtime victory for the Irish.

In that game, UConn goalkeeper Scott Levene made four saves to keep the Huskies close. UConn was outshot 18-8 and conceded seven corner kicks compared to two of their own. The Irish were ranked No. 1 in the country at the time and UConn was without leading goal scorer Abdou Mbacke Thiam.

Thiam scored the overtime winner against Quinnipiac on Monday night, giving the Huskies their first win of the season. The junior forward had seven shots in the game and will need to continue to lead the offensive production Saturday night. UConn has significantly outplayed and outshot each of their opponents this year, but will likely have to play a different type of game to beat Notre Dame.

UConn junior transfer forward Dayonn Harris was injured in the first half of the game on Monday night and didn’t return to the game. If Harris were to miss Saturday’s game, freshman Austin DaSilva would likely see more playing time at forward. Head coach Ray Reid was very high on DaSilva after Monday night’s win.

“By the time he’s a junior or senior, he’s going to get 18 goals a year,” Reid said of DaSilva. “He’s just what we need because he’s so much more different… This guy is gonna be special. I’m going to tell you, by the end of the season he’s gonna be special... He gives us size against Notre Dame who’s a big team.”

The Huskies will be aiming for a signature nonconference victory that would help their NCAA Tournament résumé at the end of the season. The match will kick off Saturday at 7 p.m. at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium.


Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joshua.buser@uconn.edu.