The University of Connecticut men’s soccer team won an emotional 1-0 game over the University of Rhode Island Rams Friday night at Morrone Stadium.
The morale on the UConn sideline was at an all-time high heading into Friday’s game due to the passing of their former head coach, Joseph J. Morrone. Morrone died Wednesday night at the age of 79 at his home in Mansfield, Connecticut. Morrone led the Huskies to a 358-178-53 record in 28 years, winning national championship in 1981.
“He is an icon,” said UConn head coach Ray Reid after the game. “He was Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma before there was a Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma. He built that stadium with his bare hands. He is gone, but he will never be forgotten as long as I am the coach here.”
It was evident from the start of the game that the Huskies were filled with passion on the offensive end.
UConn junior captain Kwame Awuah almost came up big for the Huskies at the 13-minute mark after his red-shirt sophomore teammate Alex Sanchez found him with a beautiful through pass ten yards outside of the box. Awuah launched a curling rocket from the left side that was heading for the top right corner before Rams goalkeeper Chad Fox made a diving save on the ball.
However the Huskies did not let the great defensive play effect their mindset. The UConn offense continued to keep up its relentless pursuit of a goal.
At the 21-minute mark, junior Jakob Nerwinski found teammate Fredrik Jonsson with a nifty through pass inside the box, which Jonsson was able to slam home. The goal was Jonsson’s first career goal.
“Jake flicked it in behind defenders,” Jonsson said. “It was a great effort by Jake. It is basically his goal. It was amazing. We are getting better as a team.”
One of the most interesting takeaways from Friday’s game was the fact that the Huskies only had a 4-2 shot advantage at the end of the first half, despite outplaying the Rams for the majority of the half. However UConn still finished with a 12-5 shot advantage the end of the game.
Jonsson was one of the primary reasons the Huskies provided so much offensive pressure. He almost recorded his second career goal on a rebound at the 56-minute mark from six yards out, but Fox was able to make another brilliant save.
“Freddy has been getting better and better the past three games,” Reid said. “Him and Abdou have been playing a lot better. It takes time.”
UConn’s next game will be Tuesday on the road against Boston College. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Eddie Leonard is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering UConn men’s soccer. He tweets @EddieLeonard23.