In six home appearances this season, the UConn men’s soccer team has yet to lose a game, racking up a 5-0-1 record. The Huskies have won three of their last four, haven’t suffered a loss in conference play and continue to climb in nearly every national poll and metric. To say the team is rolling is an understatement.
UConn is 6-2-1 overall on the year, with an all-important 2-0-1 conference record to lead the American Athletic Conference. The Huskies are 13th in the country in RPI and are ranked No. 12 in this week’s highly-respected TopDrawerSoccer poll, up 12 spots from a week ago.
The Huskies are coming off an emphatic 3-0 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday, in which freshmen Cole Venner and Steffen Yeates each notched their first career goals. The defense was impenetrable, allowing just a single shot on the goal. As usual, it was senior Jacob Hauser-Ramsey leading the back line, earning back-to-back conference Defensive Player of the Week awards in the process.
Despite the dominating performance, in which UConn out-shot the Bearcats 20-5, head coach Ray Reid expects a more complete performance from his team on Tuesday.
“We’ve got play better soccer, or we’re not going to beat Sacred Heart on Tuesday,” Reid said after the win, saying that although the team played with great intensity in the first half, they came out flat in the second.
On the other side of the matchup is Sacred Heart (2-8-1), who have had a disappointing season so far, particularly on the road. The Pioneers have just one win away from home in six games, and Morrone Stadium is certainly not an easy environment for opposing teams.
However, Sacred Heart will enter with some much-needed momentum. Last time out on Friday, the Pioneers secured their first Northeast Conference win of the season in dramatic fashion, drilling a game-winner in overtime to stun Mount St. Mary’s.
Offensively, the Pioneers are led by sophomore midfielder Alejandro Arribas, whose four goals are a team-best. However, it’s mostly a balanced attack from SHU, as three different players all have two assists or more.
Defense has been the major Achilles heel for Sacred Heart, with 24 goals conceded in just 11 contests. That’s 2.26 goals allowed a game, twice as much as their goals per game average of 1.13. Goalkeeper Robert Strain’s numbers aren’t pretty, allowing all 24 of those goals in 10 starts, but the fault lies mostly in his defense. Strain has been forced to make a whopping 51 saves on the season (for reference, UConn goalie Austin Aviza has only had to make 13 all year), a sign that he’s seeing far too many shots on goal.
It’s a matchup between a red-hot Huskies team and a limping Pioneers team, and while UConn has reason to be confident, those circumstances often make for a lackluster performance from the favorite. They’ll look to control possession much like they did against Cincinnati and keep persistent pressure on the Sacred Heart back line.
The game begins at 7 p.m. at Morrone Stadium in Storrs. It’s the annual Huskies and Heroes Night, which includes free admission to all former and current military members with a military ID.