A short memory is an important trait to have in sports, and the UConn men’s soccer team proved that on Saturday night. The Huskies bounced back from an 0-2 weekend to defeat Dartmouth, 1-0, remaining unbeaten at Morrone Stadium.
UConn is now 3-0 at home this season (3-2 overall), and there was another packed crowd of over 4,000 cheering on the Huskies. The second half was dominated by UConn, with the game-winner coming in the 78th minute on a header from senior Abdou Mback Thiam.
“Every time we play at home we have such an advantage because of the fans,” Thiam said after the win. “They give us more energy. Last weekend, we didn’t have them, and that had a big impact on the game.”
It was a rough weekend for the Huskies, who suffered their first two losses of the season, both shutouts. The teams they lost to, Indiana and Notre Dame, are no push-overs—both are nationally ranked in the Top 25—but the Huskies were clearly eager to get back in the win column.
Dartmouth, who started the season ranked No. 22 in the country, is still searching for their first win of the season, now sitting at 0-3. Their first two losses came against the same opponents as UConn’s, as they participated in the same tournament last weekend.
“That’s a good Dartmouth team,” head coach Ray Reid said. “They’re organized, they’re good on restarts, they’re big, they’re difficult. We were patient as the first half wore on and in the second half, we did a good job in a tough situation.”
After a quiet first half, UConn came out firing in the second. Although they only netted one, it could’ve easily been more. Dartmouth keeper Chris Palacios made a handful of spectacular saves, seven in total, to keep the Huskies off the scoreboard until the 78th minute.
That’s when UConn’s Dayonn Harris delivered when the team needed it the most. Harris sent a perfectly-placed cross into the box, finding the head of Thiam, who guided it home for his second goal of the season.
“In training this week we’ve been working on getting crosses in and making sure that we’ve got guys in the box,” Harris said. “I just wanted to get a really good ball in, and I knew Abdou would be there to finish it.”
The Huskies recorded 14 shots, eight on goal, compared to Dartmouth’s seven and three respectively. Apart from a Dartmouth goal disallowed by an offsides, the UConn defense was mostly untested thanks to a potent attack.
It’s been a difficult three-game stretch of opponents, and things won’t get easier on Tuesday when undefeated Rhode Island comes to town.
“This is a tough stretch of games,” Reid said. “We have to be ready on Tuesday night. Rhode Island is 5-0 and that’s going to be a huge game for the NCAA Tournament.”