After taking an early two-goal lead, the UConn men’s soccer team finished 2-2 against North Florida after a double-overtime.
“We should have put the game away in the first half,” head coach Ray Reid said. “We let them stick around and we gave up a terrible goal and that was it.”
Saturday’s match was the fourth time the team has gone into overtime this season.
Midway through the first half, sophomore Niko Petridis burst down the right side of the field and played a low cross into junior captain Abdou Mbacke Thiam’s path. The forward hit the ball first-time into the net.
Off the kickoff, North Florida created a chance of their own, but the Huskies stormed back. Twenty-five seconds after opening, Thiam scored his second of the day.
The Huskies continued to pepper Juanes Fajardo’s goal throughout the first half, but could not build on their lead.
Two-to-zero is known in soccer as the worst lead in the game and UConn fell victim to this cliché on Saturday.
In the 47th minute, Micah Smoak converted a free kick from about 30 yards out. Smoak was able to bend the ball around the wall and pass goalkeeper Scott Levene.
After the goal, momentum swayed in favor of the Ospreys, but they were not able to seal their comeback until the 78th minute. After a long ball forward from the goalie Fajardo, Smoak played Josh Castellanos in. The midfielder served a ball into the box that Shane Nicholson converted.
The Huskies almost retook the lead immediately as Petridis ripped a shot from outside the box, but Fajardo was able to touch the ball over with his fingertips.
In overtime, UConn had various chances to seal the win but could not convert.
“We had better chances,” Levene said. “I thought we were looking a little tired but we looked good. We created a lot of chances and I think we are getting better on that front.”
Up 2-0 early on, the Huskies found themselves in an unfamiliar position, as it was the first time the team held a two goal lead this season.
“Until we learn how to manage the game we are going to have trouble,” Reid said. “The game was in our hands and we fell apart at the seams.”
UConn returns to action Saturday when they visit Temple. The match will be the Huskies’ first American Athletic Conference game of the season.
Antonio Salazar is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.