The UConn men’s soccer team is headed to Syracuse Tuesday to take on the Orange in their last non-conference game of the season. The Huskies are coming off a hard-fought win against Cincinnati, but Syracuse might prove a tougher team to beat despite their average-looking record.
The Huskies (4-7-1, 1-2-0 The American) are finally back in the W column after going without a win since early September, but things are not as bad as they seem for this team. During their winless streak, UConn never lost a game by more than one goal, including two overtime losses, and most came on a quick counter against an otherwise strong and consistent Huskies attack. Had a couple plays or calls gone their way in the closer matchups, we could be looking at a much better record for this team entering the matchup against Syracuse.
UConn’s offense has been working incredibly well as a team thus far, moving the ball cleanly and effectively around the pitch and creating plenty of chances. The team’s biggest pitfall has been their inability to capitalize on many of those chances, as they currently sit at sixth in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) in goals with 15 despite playing the most games of any team.
The team showed signs of taking that final step in their last matchup against Cincinnati, where their two goals on 14 shots each outpaced their season averages. If UConn’s offense, led by redshirt senior Dayonn Harris, can continue finding that rhythm against the Orange, the team can start winning games more consistently, especially with the defense playing as well as they have.
This week was highlighted by two UConn players earning AAC Honors. First up was captain defenseman Robin Lapert, who earned his first Defensive Player of the Week honors of the season after playing every minute and allowing Cincinnati’s offense to get just two shots on goal during their matchup. The second honor went to sophomore goalie Gianluca Catalano, who was voted AAC Goalkeeper of the Week after tallying six saves during their two games, as well as a clean sheet against the Bearcats.
Meanwhile, Syracuse (4-3-4,1-2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) has been incredibly hit or miss this season. Their most recent game was against No. 18 North Carolina, a match they won 4-3, but the Orange were shutout by No. 18 Duke just a week prior in a 4-0 loss.
The leaders for Syracuse are sophomore midfielder Ryan Raposo and senior forward Massimo Ferrin. Raposo leads the team with 11 points on four goals and three assists, including a hat trick in their most recent win against North Carolina. He will be a player the Huskies have to keep their eye on all game to keep him from scoring another. Ferrin is second on the team with eight points, tallying three goals and two assists on the year.
The key for the Huskies will be to get on the board first and hold the lead, as Syracuse has yet to win a game when they give up the first goal. With their defense as consistent as it gets and their offense continuously improving, the Huskies look poised for a strong performance against the Orange.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at SU Stadium, and can be streamed on ACCNX or ESPN+.
Conner Gilson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @connergilson03.