Down the stretch of the season, every in-conference matchup becomes more and more significant. Currently, the UConn men’s soccer team sits tied atop the American Athletic Conference standings. The Huskies have a chance to take sole possession of first this weekend as they welcome Temple to Storrs on Saturday.
UConn (8-2-2, 2-0-2, The American) is ranked in five different polls, most notably United Soccer Coaches, which has them at No. 20 in the country. The Huskies last lost on Sept. 2, and they have yet to drop a game at home this season.
Senior Abdou Mbacke Thiam leads the team in goals (9), assists (4), and points (22), and five of his goals have been clutch game-winners for the Huskies. He and redshirt junior Dayonn Harris have proved to be a dynamic duo when on the field together, though Harris did not play in Tuesday’s win over Boston College. After the game, head coach Ray Reid did not offer an explanation as to why.
In the goal, UConn has relied on the steady hands of Austin Aviza and no time was that reliance heavier than on Tuesday. Aviza tallied a career-high eight saves, bailing out the usually-strong UConn defense time and time again against the Eagles. On the season, he sports a .75 save percentage with four shutouts.
For Temple (4-7-3, 1-2-1, The American), it’s been a disappointing season so far. The Owls have dropped two straight, most recently to Pitt on Monday night. Most notably, six of their losses have come on the road, and Morrone Stadium won’t make things any easier.
Junior Lukas Fernandes leads the Owls with 14 points on five goals and four assists, though he has struggled in conference play, scoring just one goal on six shots. The Huskies offense will face junior Simon Lefebvre in the Temple net, who has 40 saves in 12 starts this season.
With Temple sitting at sixth in the conference, this is a game from which the Huskies will hope to come away with three points. They’ll look to do just that on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Morrone Stadium.