The UConn men’s soccer team defeated the Temple Owls by a score of 2-1 on Saturday night on the shoulders of none other than senior and star player Abdou Mbacke Thiam.
After playing poorly through the first portion of the game and down 1-0 in the 39th minute, the Huskies came back out with a new and reinvigorated state of mind for the second half.
Thiam led the charge and scored the equalizer in the 63rd minute after Temple gifted the Huskies a penalty kick which he put away with ease.
He would go on to score the eventual game winner with just minutes left to go in the game, as in the 88th minute he managed to hit a beautiful chip over Temple’s 6-foot-9 keeper. The rainbow of a shot had such incredible spin to it that, to the naked eye, it almost looked like there was a magnet pulling it from the air down into the net.
However, these were not just any old game winning goals for Thiam, as they were his 10th and 11th ones of the season. While reaching double-digit goals in one season is alone quite an achievement, his accomplishment of it on Saturday marked the fourth time he has done that in a season during his collegiate career. That’s right, four seasons of UConn soccer for Thiam, and double-digit goals each year.
After the game, Thiam expressed what this milestone means to him and how he feels about this current team and season.
“It feels amazing,” Thiam said. “I feel really good about the team because I put the team first. Last year we were 8-8-2, and this year we have nine wins. I’m not thinking about my goals, but I know sometimes it’s gonna make me happy, it’s gonna give me more confidence for the next game. But I just want to put the team first because without them I can’t score any goals.”
His 11 goals and 26 points this season are each good for second in the American, and he is one of only four players that averages over one point per game.
This is just the latest in a distinguished career for Thiam, who hails from Dakar, Senegal. He was selected to the American Athletic Conference All-Second and All-Rookie teams his freshman year and followed it up with a First-Team All-Conference selection his sophomore and junior year and a United Soccer All-East Region Second Team selection his junior year.
His now 42 career goals are tied for 6th most in UConn history, and he is only one of two players in the top six who played in the 2000s. He also currently sits at 96 career points, good for ninth on the all-time leaderboards. With three more regular season contests and then tournament games still on tap, Thiam has a chance to climb even higher on the leaderboards.
This is a huge accomplishment, and Thiam is perhaps having his best season yet. His play has been one of the largest reasons that the Huskies are 9-2-2 this season and in the top-25 in RPI and the United Soccer Coaches poll.
One thing is for sure, as long as Thiam is on the field, you don’t want to play the Huskies.
Jorge Eckardt is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.