After playing six consecutive home games to begin the 2017 season, the UConn men’s soccer team will head to Philadelphia this weekend to take on Temple in their first road match of the year.
UConn (2-2-2, 0-0-0 the American) is coming off a 2-2 draw to North Florida that concluded a disappointing homestand. The Huskies entered the season ranked No. 24 nationally and favored to win the American Athletic Conference, but the youth in UConn’s lineup and their struggle to score goals have led to a few unsatisfactory results.
“We’re getting there,” UConn head coach Ray Reid said after a victory over Hofstra. “It’s a work in progress… We’re gonna dig ourselves out, we got a little bloodied and I think that has helped get these guys’ attention.”
Saturday night’s match against Temple will be the Huskies’ first conference game of the season. Last year, UConn went 3-3-1 in AAC play, including a win against Temple in the conference-opener. The Huskies started conference play 3-0, but fell apart in the last three games of the season with discouraging losses to Memphis and UCF and a draw with SMU.
In the victory against the Temple Owls last season, Abdou Mbacke Thiam scored the lone goal of the game by heading in a corner kick. UConn goalkeeper Scott Levene made five saves in a shutout performance to give the Huskies the win.
Thiam and Levene have been leading the Huskies once again this season. Thiam has scored four of UConn’s five goals on the season, including both goals against North Florida last weekend. The junior captain has led the Huskies in goals each of the past two years and is well on track to pace the team for the third straight season. Thiam and senior defender Andrew Geres both made this week’s AAC Honor Roll for the Huskies.
Levene made six saves in the match against North Florida, one shy of his career high set in 2015 against USF. The redshirt senior is second in the AAC with a 0.75 goals against average.
Temple (2-4-1, 0-0-0 the American) is coming off a 4-1 home victory over Duquesne on Tuesday night. The Owls are 1-1-0 at home but have struggled on the road with a 1-3-1 record.
Sophomore forward Thibault Candia scored his first two career goals in the win over Duquesne, tying him with senior Joonas Jokinen for the Owls’ leading goal scorer. Sophomore Lukas Fernandes has fired 12 shots and scored one goal despite only playing 162 minutes.
Redshirt senior goalkeeper Alex Cagle has started six of Temple’s seven games in net, making 10 saves and playing to a 1.27 goals against average.
Both teams will look to start the conference season 1-0 on Saturday night. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. at the Temple Sports Complex.
Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.