Men’s Soccer: UConn secures win over Temple in first round of conference tournament

UConn navigates the defense during a game against SMU on Oct. 28, 2018.

UConn men’s soccer took a 3-1 win over Temple in round one of the American Athletic Conference (AAC) tournament Tuesday and will move on to play one-seed UCF.

Temple (5-10-4) struck first in the match, scoring in the 24th minute thanks to an unassisted goal from Belal Mohamed. But from that point on, the game belonged to the Huskies (11-4-2).

UConn thoroughly dominated for the rest of the match and tied the game in the 39th minute by forcing an own goal. With the score 1-1 to start the second half, the Huskies kept up their barrage of shots on Temple’s net.

UConn scored the go-ahead goal in the 68th minute off the familiar connection of Dayonn Harris and Abdou Mbacke Thiam. Thiam crossed a pass into the box, which Harris fired into the left side of the net. It was Harris’ fifth goal of the season.

The Huskies added another one in the 73rd minute for good measure. This time Thiam found Cole Venner from about 15 yards out, who shot the ball into the left side of the goal for his first of the season.

Temple was dominated by UConn in almost every statistical category. UConn outshot Temple 15-6, attempted seven corner kicks to Temple’s zero and were called for only six fouls to the Owls’ 15.

UConn held the one-seed in the tournament with two conference matchups remaining on the regular season schedule, but dropped both to full down to the fourth seed.

Coach Ray Reid, probably looking to change things up following back to back conference losses, sat out goalkeeper Austin Aviza, who had started all but one match this season.

Instead, Reid opted to go with freshman Gianluca Catalano. Though Catalano didn’t record a save in the contest, he only allowed one goal. Catalano’s one other start this season was in the season opener, in which he also allowed one goal and recorded zero saves.

Allowing just one goal and not having to record a save is a testament to how great UConn defense really is. Led by Jacob Hauser-Ramsey, the Huskies’ defense is poised to give this team a chance to make a run in the AAC tournament and possibly the NCAA tournament.

UConn will play the top dog in the conference UCF Thursday in Orlando, Florida. The last time these two teams met was also in Orlando and ended in a 0-0 stalemate. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m.


Sean Janos is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at sean.janos@uconn.edu.