UConn pulled out a clutch 2-1 win over Sacred Heart Tuesday night thanks to a cold-as-ice performance from, who else but Abdou Mbacke Thiam.
Thiam received a high and long pass from defender Felix Metzler. Thiam then dribbled through multiple Sacred Heart defenders to narrow it to just him and the goalkeeper. He got the keeper to commit, and shot a beautifully placed ball by him for the game-winning goal in the 88th minute. Two Sacred Heart players tried to kick the ball out of the goal, but it was too little, too late.
Thiam also assisted his teammate and fellow team leader Dayonn Harris on the game-tying goal during the 65th minute of the contest.
Head coach Ray Reid was thrilled with his leading scorer, saying “he’s a dream” to coach.
“Well, [Josh] Burnett is a very good player, Steffen Yeates is a very good player, Ibrahima Diop is a very good player, Cole Venner is a very good player, but these guys [Thiam and Harris] are older. They’ve been through the wars,” Reid said. “The guys look for them, and to be honest with you, this guy [Thiam] wants the ball when we’re having problems.”
When I search for a memory of Thiam’s heroics, my mind immediately goes to UConn’s double overtime win over Loyola University of Maryland when he scored a hat trick, the final goal coming in the 106th minute to lift the Huskies to a 3-2 win. The moment is never too big for the young man from Senegal.
“I don’t think we said ‘get Abdou and Dayonn the ball,’ but our guys know who the money guys are and they get them the ball,” Reid said.
“At the end of the game, they [Sacred Heart] want to score, and we want to score,” Thiam said. “I asked our guys not to give up a second goal, and I knew that we would score more than one.”
That’s the kind of confidence with which the Huskies’ go-to scorer leads his team. Thiam sang nothing but praises for his partner-in-crime Harris.
“In this kind of game, as a senior, and he [Harris] is in his fourth year, we have to take care of business,” Thiam said. “He’s one of the main guys, fast and he’s good with the ball. To be honest, I think he can do better. I’m telling you, I think he’s going to be even better.”
The way that Harris and Thiam play on the offensive side of the ball, along with the Huskies’ usual brand of stingy defense, spells trouble for the rest of the country. And if Harris does have another gear like Thiam says, then watch out for UConn come tourney time.
The Huskies will face a very talented UCF (8-2-1) soccer team Friday afternoon in Florida. Due to a few cancellations, UConn has only played two road games, plus one game at a neutral site. The Huskies are 1-2-0 in those games, and will have to prove that they can win games against good teams away from Morrone. UCF is ranked No. 19 in the country, and the Golden Knights are sure to be a great test for UConn’s defense. The game will begin at 4 p.m.
Sean Janos is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.