Through the nonconference portion of their schedule, the UConn men’s soccer team has compiled the second-best record in the conference. Now the Huskies begin the stretch of games that really matter for the conference tournament, beginning with USF on Saturday in Storrs.
UConn (4-2) has yet to lose a game at home, and they hope to stay perfect on Saturday. Since Tuesday’s match against BC was postponed, it’ll be a week since the Huskies last took the field, meaning fresh legs but also some inevitable rust.
A week ago, the Huskies were in the identical situation for their game against Loyola, having had a game cancelled earlier in the week.
“We were not sharp in the warmup from the week off,” said head coach Ray Reid after that game. “We hadn’t been out on the grass in 10 days, and you could see it.”
In that game against Loyola, the Huskies allowed an early goal but shook off the rust and went on to win in double overtime. They’ll look to get off to a faster start on Saturday, despite the long layover between games.
USF (2-5) currently sits at second-to-last in the conference, ahead of only Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference standings. The Bulls have just one win in four road games this season, and Morrone Stadium offers one of the most intimidating environments in the nation.
Defense has been the major point of concern for the Bulls so far, allowing the second-most goals per game (1.71) in the American. That’s especially worrying considering that USF goaltenders average the most saves per game (3.86) in the conference, meaning the goalkeepers are being tested early and often.
Junior Alex Zis leads the Bulls in goals and points. Sophomore Adrian Billhardt easily leads the squad in shots with 20, but has yet to find the back of the net. Goalkeeper Harrison Devenish-Meares has recorded 25 saves in just seven starts, and will need some better work by his backline to keep Abdou Mbacke Thiam and the Huskies off the board.
A year ago, the Huskies went 4-3 in conference play, including a 2-0 victory over USF. After this season’s early success, they’re aiming to top that four-win total, beginning with a win over the Bulls on Saturday.
The game begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Morrone Stadium in Storrs.