Abdou Mbacke Thiam has scored in each of his last four games. The junior forward once again propelled the Huskies to victory on Tuesday night with an 82nd minute goal to defeat Providence 1-0.
Thiam scored on a header with eight minutes left in regulation, saving the Huskies from their fifth overtime in eight matches. Sophomore Niko Petridis sent in the pass for the game-winning assist.
“Nkosi [Burgess] played a good ball down the line, I just wanted to work as hard as I could to try to keep the ball in,” Petridis said. “I put good pressure on the guy and I have to give Abdou [Mbacke Thiam] credit because I’m [working hard] to go all the way to the line, and I look up and he’s right there in the box waiting for me. It was a great finish by him.”
The goal is Thiam’s seventh of the season, leading the closest Husky by six goals.
“When Abdou [Mbacke Thiam] starts to score, he gets hot… When he starts to come, they come in bunches,” head coach Ray Reid said four games ago, when Thiam scored the game-winner against Hofstra. The junior captain has now scored five goals in a four game stretch beginning with that Hofstra victory, proving Reid to be spot on.
“We just gotta hope the bunches keep going until December,” Reid said today when reminded of his earlier quote. “But give [Thiam] credit, he’s doing a good job. And the best thing about him… he’s matured as a man and as a player.”
UConn (4-2-2, 1-0-0 the American) outshot Providence 16-7 in the game, including an 11-1 margin in the first half. Thiam accounted for nine of those shots as he put four on goal. The Huskies also earned eight corner kicks to the Friars’ one.
“I thought the defense was exceptional,” redshirt junior defender Dylan Greenberg said. “We worked on [defensive shape] in practice and I thought we were locked in. I thought we did all the right things out there, we got the result and I’m very happy with our performance.”
Providence (2-6-1) managed to outshoot the Huskies 6-5 in a much different second half, forcing redshirt senior goalkeeper Scott Levene to make five of his six saves after halftime.
The Huskies had several good chances to score before they finally found the back of the net, but Providence goalkeeper Colin Miller made tough saves on shots by Thiam, sophomore Munir Saleh and freshman Josh Burnett, among others. Miller had six saves in the game to keep the Friars alive.
The victory was important for UConn as they head into a difficult pair of games coming up. The Huskies will host defending American Athletic Conference champion Tulsa on Friday night before welcoming No. 3 Maryland to Storrs on Monday.
Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.