After losing three consecutive games, the UConn men’s soccer team defeated Yale 2-0 on Halloween Night. In the final regular season home game of the season, the Huskies were able to record an important victory ahead of a crucial match with SMU.
UConn (8-6-2, 4-2 The American) outplayed the Bulldogs for most of the match, controlling possession and earning an 8-2 advantage in shots on goal. Abdou Mbacke Thiam scored his 10th goal of the season on a penalty kick in the 21st minute to put the Huskies up 1-0. In the second half, Niko Petridis doubled the lead with a breakaway goal assisted by Thiam.
“(Thiam) was energized tonight,” UConn Head Coach Ray Reid said. “He understands it’s a critical time of the year.”
The matchup against Yale might not seem important on paper. UConn is unlikely to get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and has already clinched a spot in the American Athletic Conference Tournament. However, in the midst of a three-game losing streak, the nonconference matchup provided a chance for the Huskies to get their confidence back before they head to SMU.
“(My staff and I) had a heated discussion… on resting guys,” Reid said. “I tried to explain to them, if we’ve lost four straight, that’s not exactly how you want to go to Dallas.”
UConn had not looked terrible in the three prior losses, all one-goal games that the Huskies had a chance to win. But Reid felt a win against Yale would be more important to his team than the extra rest.
The victory gives the Huskies a little bit of momentum heading into Saturday’s regular season finale. UConn is in the American Tournament, but with a win over SMU on Saturday, the Huskies would be crowned American regular season champions and seeded No. 1 in the tournament.
More importantly, the No. 1 seed in the conference hosts the tournament behind their home fans. UConn went just 5-5-2 at home this season, but the Huskies would surely prefer to battle for the conference title at home.
“If I told you guys that we could go down on the last day of the season and win the league no matter what, everyone would sign up for that,” UConn redshirt senior goalkeeper Scott Levene said. “We have another chance to get games back at Morrone (Stadium) … We’ll be ready for Saturday night.”
Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.